There is a desperate need for a cultural reset in America. People everywhere should be reminded of the values, ideals, and priorities which have defined and sustained this nation through good and bad times. Our children and grandchildren deserve to see in real time what the American dream can look like and how this country’s promises can be dispensed for generations to come.

The volume in our public square is unbearable and our disparate voices are being muted in ways never imagined in years past. The toxicity across our cultural and social landscapes seems to have come out of nowhere. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that it’s been brewing beneath the surface for quite a while.

The sheer lunacy throughout American politics and across media platforms often seems like a horror show. The poisonous rhetoric and absence of civility being displayed by political leaders, social media, and other pundits contribute to extreme levels of dysfunction and intransigence in the public arena.

In academia, whether intentional or not, we are witnessing a growing hegemony which ignores the promotion of respect and tolerance for diverse ideas, perspectives, and ideologies. And the silence throughout the faith community is deafening, as many religious leaders renege on their mandate to serve as a herald for unity, tolerance, and reconciliation.

Every bit of what we are seeing and feeling in communities of all shapes and sizes is the precise manifestation of what’s in the hearts and souls of everyday Americans – fear, despair, pain, hate, vitriol, and insecurity. And the religious intolerance, violent crimes, and domestic and global terrorism are some of the unfortunate outcomes of these realities.

To reverse our nation’s course and change the tenor of our relations, there has to be a redoubling of our mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance of the diversity and liberty which have defined America across centuries. Our institutions and communities desperately need to cultivate the exchange and sharing of ideas and views that are characteristic of a thriving democracy.

Americans everywhere are screaming for better leadership. “We the people” deserve leaders who are principled, mature, and committed to the greater good. We need an emergence of leaders who embody integrity, independence, courage, and impartiality.

The soul of America is at stake. Because our problems in this country are rooted in matters of the heart, there needs to be a spiritual revival. Every single American must resist the temptation to be complacent and complicit, by not remaining silent. For the sake of the next generation, my prayer is that we are able to collectively sense our nation’s cultural temperature and respond in ways that will advance our shared values and ideals.