Associated Press
New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, pose during their vacation in Warm Springs, Ga., Oct. 4, 1929.

Democracy is faltering in the United States. Our moral fiber is falling apart. Our national news this week has been of wealthy, elite, famous people paying to cheat in college entrance exams. And worse still there have been collaborators inside our most prestigious universities. It seems we have lost our national character. It is shocking news.

A new book, "Leadership: In Turbulent Times" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, tells of the struggles Franklin Delano Roosevelt endured in recovering from polio. One day, Roosevelt was a perfectly healthy, vigorous man swimming with his children. The next day he was paralyzed from the waist down. He lost control of his muscles in his lower body, but his arms and upper body functioned fine. Franklin Roosevelt’s polio did not go away. He had to learn to endure. And the book suggests that this struggle strengthened Roosevelt’s character to be one of our greatest leaders. He led us through the Great Depression and World War II.

None of us can be a Franklin Roosevelt — but each of us in our smaller ways contribute to the national character.

Our country today faces a less obvious but an even greater danger — that is the very essence of preserving democracy. Democracy is faltering in the United States because we are losing our national character.

Just a few of our current numerous problems:

1) Our American democracy is paralyzed in terms of passing legislation on immigration reforms, health care matters and other critical issues.

2) Our tone of debate and discussion has become coarse and hostile.

3) Our free press has split into two presses — one that is for President Trump and one that is against him — and neither will give an ounce of credit to the other side.

We have an election coming up next year. People should not just vote. They should study and participate in the primaries and the general election, and vote in a conscious way. If we can do that, we will take the pain we are going through and make our nation stronger, just as Franklin Roosevelt did that on an individual basis. Our struggles may not seem as dramatic as the Great Depression or World War II, but we are in the same grave danger today.

Elder Neil A. Andersen, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave an excellent speech in the October 2018 general conference, titled “Wounded.” He talked about good people who can become wounded by no fault of their own.

For some reason, God allows good people to endure sufferings. In a portion of his talk entitled “The Righteous Are Not Immune,” Elder Andersen says “our wounds may come from a natural disaster or an unfortunate accident.” As a nation, I think our wounds are coming from a loss of character. But we are not alone in our struggle to preserve the nation. Elder Andersen continues, “Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the incalculable gift of His Atonement, not only suffered for the forgiveness of our sins, but He also stands ready to save us from the sorrows and pains of our wounded souls.” Thus, Elder Andersen seems to be saying that we need to turn to God for support as we work to rebuild the character of our nation.

When some of our leading citizens immorally paid to gain admissions to universities for their children, they deprived other deserving and hardworking children of their chances. It is the very essence of lacking character.

20 comments on this story

The current cheating scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Our entire country must come to grips with the fact that we are in a crisis of character. Things that are happening should not be happening. Our voters are not carefully selecting candidates for whom they vote, our public officials are not working together on a bipartisan basis as they should, and the whole tone of our society is no longer character-driven. It is time we wake up to the fact that we face just as big a challenge as the Great Depression and World War II in preserving our democracy.

But we can and we must save our country through greater efforts of all citizens. As Elder Andersen says in “Wounded” about our continuing struggle, “don’t ever give up, pray with all your heart, strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, in His reality, in His grace.”

Our country is wounded, but we shall overcome.