When we were youngsters, our father would ask us provocative questions. One day he asked, 'What is the most powerful, event-producing force in the world?' We guessed and guessed. His answer: 'Apathy.' What? 'Yes,' he said, 'apathy, because huge numbers of apathetic citizens, or victims, allow bad guys to create all kinds of problems on the ground -- from dictatorial regimes, to repressed economic conditions, to health and safety hazards, to corruption, to wars and so forth.' Edmund Burke, the British conservative philosopher around the time of our country's revolution, put it another way-- 'All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.'"
Thomas Paine's Common Sense galvanized his fellow American colonists into seizing their independence from Britain. Today, as we again face "times that try men's souls," Ralph Nader's call to civic action is as crucial to our country's future as Paine's was in 1776. In Civic Arousal, Nader responds to thoughtful letters written by two young citizens, both frustrated with the political status quo but unsure about their power to affect real change. His insights will inspire every citizen to participate in our democracy and movements for positive change in this country.
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