It cannot be disputed that we as a nation have failed to live up to our ideals. But this failure of action does not diminish the value of these ideals; indeed, it only highlights our desperate need for them.
A well-educated person is not someone with a set of credentials that will help them live a materially wealthy and comfortable life, but someone who is spiritually free to know and delight in those goods that make a human life deeply and truly happy.
The techniques of persuasion have been so habitually separated from logic and wisdom, it’s assumed that rhetoric is persuasion through bad reasons for bad purposes. But in truth, the art of persuasion is as necessary for good arguments as it is for bad ones.
Cicero’s formulation of ethics was a major influence on minds as diverse as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Locke, Voltaire, and Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps we would do wisely to return to a fountain that has watered so many so well.