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Prof. Stephen Carter Gives New Year's Prognostications on ABC's "This Week"

Stephen L. Carter, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at YLS, appeared on the ABC News television program "This Week" on Sunday, December 30, to join a discussion of what the new year is likely to hold. He was invited on the program for his expertise in "religion and popular culture," according to the show's co-host Sam Donaldson, and appeared beside former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Robert Thomson, U.S. managing editor of the "Financial Times"; and John Feinstein, sports commentator for National Public Radio.

Carter was asked whether the atmosphere of war or the urge to return to a normal way of life will likely predominate in the coming year. He replied: "We've seen great unity and great signs of sacrifice. But historically, when the war has ended, when the external threat has ended, we've fallen back to a kind of squabbling that I worry may soon be threatening us again."

Carter went on to note that while Americans have shown willingness to sacrifice in response to September 11--both by risking their lives to help others and by giving money to charities--other causes have been left short of funds and attention. He described one good he hoped to see develop: "Can we turn some of the wonderful energy that we're willing to give to the sacrifices of war to the sacrifices that have to be made here at home--whether we're talking about helping poor children have a better chance to get ahead, or doing something about the cities, or the many other things that, I think, would show us that our sense of unity means we really want to turn and help each other?"

In response to a question about the surge in church and synagogue attendance after September 11, Carter postulated that, in response to a threat, people "go back to first principles. They go back to God. They're looking for a rock or an anchor."

Asked finally for "one big prediction," Carter demurred and offered his hope that instead of simply getting back to normal, people would "recognize that maybe the years leading up to 2001 weren't the best years in America; that maybe we needed more of an ethic of care and responsibility." He hopes in the next year to see Americans "looking forward . . . to making the future better."