It is undoubtedly true that a much smaller population of college graduates know who Achilles is or St. Augustine was. But whether that’s a calamity is an open question. What we do have is one of the first generation of graduates who are able to hear the narratives of formerly exploited nations (and subgroups of all types) without defensiveness. Whatever they don’t know about “Western Civilization” seems more than counterbalanced by their ability and their zeal to go out in the world, in all these victimized places, and be of service. They don’t have to spread the gospel of Americanism or Westernism to help those in need. It’s just as possible they’ve shed an outdated myth for a newer one that’s more attractive and relevant to them. The myth of a world grounded in a common humanity, rather than a world gridded off by how distinctive and accomplished its civilization has historically been. Or claimed to be.
This is a great passage — thanks for posting.