Monday, April 13, 2015

Sentences not normally uttered in these pages

A really excellent column by David Brooks today, entitled 'The Moral Bucket List'.
But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be okay. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys.
True indeed.

It seems to me that the main time you hear the concept of 'character' being used these days is when ironically describing some unpleasant experience as being one that 'builds character'. It is rare to hear it talked about as a set of moral virtues that one ought to spend time contemplating and working on.

This is a great shame. The enormous rise of narcissism in our society is in some sense the receding shoreline that gets exposed when the other higher purposes and virtues that people used to live for are all stripped away. We only think of ourselves, about ourselves, and in the interests of ourselves, because there is no longer anything else worth aiming for.

The good news is, this ennui is fixable.

The bad news is, changing yourself is hard, unsparing work.

The good news is, the work itself has its own joy, and is most of the solution to the ennui you'd been feeling.

Read the whole thing.

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