||I DON'T KNOW . . . YET 3 acceptance of false answers also reduced the credibility of subsequent correct answers. Finally, there is the tragedy of recent American presidents, who have been prone to provide quick answers to urgent questions put to them by their countrymen and then judged harshly when those quick answers proved insufficient to the magnitude and subtlety of the questions the country faces. The price we pay for the premature generation and uncritical acceptance of answers is especially high when we consider how many questions we have which, in fact, do not require immediate answers. On the one hand, we have many time-tested simple truths which we often ignore. On the other hand, we have within us "a divinity which shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will."1 That is to say, there is a basic drive or force within us as individuals and as a culture which sustains and propels us, even without our knowledge of the intricate mechanisms of propulsion. What are some of these simple truths, and what are the mechanisms for both stability and propulsion? Bill Bennett, the Director of the National Humanities Center, listed such simple truths in a. Newsweek article recently.2 Let me paraphrase a few. (1) America is a great country, by comparison with its own past or the past and present of other countries. Is improvement needed? Yes. Does this dislodge the simple truth? No. (2) Civilizations' values are learned. Children are not born with an instinct for democracy or citizenship. Efforts must be made to bring them to understanding of the spiritual and cultural inheritance that is their birthright but that doesn't come with birth. (3) The best enjoyment follows work. Unabated leisure soon becomes boring and there are few pleasures as satisfying as the joy of good work. (4) Sincerity is not the test of truth. If something is dubious, believing it "harder" doesn't make it any truer. Sincerity, like conscience, is a reliable guide to action and belief only when it is conjoined with intelligence. (5) No one who is sixteen has ever been forty, but everyone who is forty was once sixteen. In all periods of history there are certain things most people learn from experience. Some of this lore is transferred passively, most only if forty year olds will consider their experience and speak to it unapologetically. We ignore such simple truths as Mr. Bennett cites at great cost to ourselves and our society. What about more complicated cultural and biologic questions? I would suggest that we are neither alone nor without rudder, however passive we may be intellectually at any one moment. The momentum of the status quo has, in fact, considerable virtue and there are rich overtones in the enduring and sustaining power of it.