We are living through a period of cultural climate change. We have outsourced morality to the markets on the one hand, and the state on the other. The markets have brought wealth to many, and the state has done much to contain the worst excesses of inequality, but neither is capable of bearing the moral weight of showing us how to live.
This has had a profound impact on society and the way in which we interact with each other. Traditional values no longer hold, yet recent political swings show that modern ideals of tolerance have left many feeling rudderless and adrift. In this environment we see things fall apart in unexpected ways – toxic public discourse makes true societal progress almost unattainable, a more divisive society is fuelled by identity politics and extremism, and the rise of a victimhood mentality calls for ‘safe spaces’ but stifles debate. The influence of social media seems all-pervading and the breakdown of the family is only one result of the loss of social capital. Many fear what the future may hold.
Delivering a devastatingly insightful critique of our modern condition, and assessing its roots and causes from the ancient Greeks through the Reformation and Enlightenment to the present day, Sacks argues that there is no liberty without morality, and no freedom without responsibility.
If we care about the future of western civilisation, all of us must play our part in rebuilding our common moral foundation. Then we will discover afresh the life-transforming and counterintuitive truths that a nation is strong when it cares for the weak, and rich when it cares for the poor.
Here is an inspiring vision of a world in which we can all find our place, and face the future without fear.
Awarded Book of the Year 2020 in the National Jewish Book Awards Lady Elaine Sacks commented: 'I know my late husband was very proud of Morality and would have been most honoured by this recognition from the Jewish Book Council. Though he had won many previous Jewish Book Awards, none of his books had been named as the Book of the Year. This shows the particular relevance of Morality in today's increasingly complex world. In the book, he aimed to show society a way forward, and one which prioritises the "We" over the "I" - something he passionately believed in throughout his life. Though he is much missed by our family and so many others, I am delighted the book has been recognised in this way.' His last book, Morality, while written before the spread of coronavirus, is highly relevant to today's situation. He would not have been silent were he still with us, and his voice is sadly missed. * The Times * Jonathan Sacks is one of the great moral thinkers of our time. His latest book, Morality, applies his powerful approach to the unprecedented challenges of our time - social, political, economic, and above all, cultural. May his words be heeded throughout the land. -- Robert D. Putnam Professor, Harvard University and author of Bowling Alone (2000) and The Upswing (2020) the work will stand as a worthy successor to, and, in many respects, summation of Sacks's impressive oeuvre * Jewish Chronicle * Sacks unpacks a whole litany of dystopian trends arising from our relentless preoccupation with me, me, me * Premier Christianity * Sacks presents an articulate and impassioned argument . . . He is a fine exegete of the Hebrew Scriptures, and his belief in the common good is profound. * Reform * The strength of Morality does not reside in Jonathan Sacks's discussion of political and philosophical theorists, but in those passages in which he speaks to us as rabbi and community leader. * TLS * 'Sacks argues convincingly that this pursuit of the common good has been disappearing from the West, and has left us impoverished and damaged.' * Jewish Renaissance * The inheritor of a tradition with a long historical memory of loss, exile, death and mourning, Sacks has things to say that speak more directly to our present condition than anything in recent liberal thinking. * New Statesman * 'Let Us Dream thus joins a growing body of Covid-era literature calling for a communitarian reset of liberal values and institutions... Morality by the late Jonathan Sacks have all traversed similar territory. The collective pro noun is back in fashion.' * Observer * And so this last book reads like a summation of his life's work - a propitiously timed gift and a starting point for discussion. * The Washington Post *
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