"too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose."The book contrasts Carter's honest realism in American foreign and domestic policy with the pure fantasy of the Reagan presidency that was sustained by his Republican successors. Thankfully, we are at the end of the Reagan era.
It is interesting and significant that Jimmy Carter is a woodworker. There are things that you learn working with wood, about limits and capacities, and about quality in relation to quantity. When you have a board that can be made into something, and that board is real wood with its inherent beauty and limitations, strengths and defects, you learn about the qualities of the real world. You learn to be careful, caring and frugal in its use. And you also learn about yourself through the making of things from it. Sadly, these are things that no presidents have known since. Unless, of course we were to discover that President Barack Obama has a secret love of woodworking in the White House basement. We can sincerely hope, not just for the wisdom of the nation, but for the joy it would bring to his own life.