Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community value in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product now is over 800 million dollars a year. But that gross national product, if we judge the United States by that, that gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances that clear our highways of carnage; it counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them; it counts the destruction of the red wood and the loss of our natural wonder and chaotic sprawl; it counts napalm and nuclear war heads and armored cars and police that fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s Rifles and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.