David Gergen has served four different American presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton), and he now heads the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Last month Gergen, known for being a measured observer of politics, spoke before the Commonwealth Club of California and issued a very sober warning: America faces monumental problems. But unfortunately our capacity to address them has never been so diminished, and we’re this close to heading into a civilizational decline. Just what is limiting our ability to handle these problems? If you cut to the chase, it’s a mediocre generation of Americans – politicians, business leaders, media moguls, citizens – habitually putting personal interests first and the greater good second. It’s not a pretty picture, but Gergen suggests a few ways out of the woods. (Hint: education counts here.) You can stream the talk here, grab it on iTunes, or listen below. And if you think there’s nothing you can personally do to make this generation a better one, I suggest you watch the last few minutes of this Robert Sapolsky video.