by Padraig O’Malley, John Joseph Moakley Chair of Peace and Reconciliation
I have worked with Marcy Murninghan since the 1980’s. The scope and breath of Murninghan’s work can be gauged from the range of eminent institutions and luminaries that commissioned reports and in-depth analysis on social issues or supported her or were participants in her inquiry into emerging trends in several public policy areas. One constant permeates and brings convergence, outlining the framework of a moral economy to fulfill, she writes, America’s covenant and democracy’s promise, more fragile now in the rise of the alt-right, nationalisms, polarization, and increasing inequality.
Quoting Murninghan, “America faces a reckoning, a crucible of what Reinhold Niebuhr observed more than eighty years ago. Our democratic principles and traditions are imperiled by the power of financial oligarchs and unfettered money flows, which have contributed to massive inequality that, in turn, has given rise to political unrest and a sense of cultural unmooring. The articles presented here are both descriptive and normative, setting forth a complex social problem with seemingly bottomless proportions and then offering a design or set of remedial actions to alleviate them. Drawing on my professional experience going back to the mid-1970s, I wrote these pieces to generate new knowledge, new capabilities, and new vistas that open opportunities for growth and well-being—all the while knowing that no problems ever can be solved permanently and that sometimes solutions in one era become new problems in another.
Woven throughout are issues related to racism, gender disparities, wealth and income gaps, criminal justice reform, the double-edged sword of digital technologies, and how best to create a culture of equity and civic stewardship that moves us forward.”