Monday, April 27, 2015

stretch across time

I'm reading the book The Road to Character by David Brooks. I love reading books and articles by David Brooks because sometimes we agree, but often we disagree. It's always an exciting journey.

The Road to Character is a perfect example. While reading it, I find myself cheering... for example, in chapter one there is a bit about reviewing the mistakes of the day each night:
"He tallies his recurring core sins and the other mistakes that might have branched off from them. Then he develops strategies for how he might do better tomorrow. Tomorrow he'll try to look differently at people, pause more before people. He'll put care above prestige, the higher thing above the lower thing. We all have a moral responsibility to be more moral every day, and he will struggle to inch ahead each day in this most important sphere."

And, in chapter two, the part about changing the question from 'What do I want from life?' to 'What does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do?'
"This perspective begins not within the autonomous self, but with the concrete circumstances in which you happen to be embedded. This perspective begins with an awareness that the world existed long before you and will last long after you, and that in the brief span of your life you have been thrown by fate, by history, by chance, by evolution, or by God into a specific place with specific problems and needs. Your job is to figure certain things out: What does this environment need in order to be made whole? What is it that needs repair? What tasks are lying around waiting to be performed? As the novelist Frederick Buechner put it, 'At what points do my talents and deep gladness meet the world's deep need?'"

In chapter five, I found that I am, surprisingly, a big fan of George Marshall. Marshall is an example of courage and honor and obligation to community and country.
"Some people seem to have been born into this world with a sense of indebtedness for the blessing of being alive. They are aware of the transmission of generations, what has been left to them by those who came before, their indebtedness to their ancestors, their obligations to a set of moral responsibilities that stretch across time."
 I struggled more with the last 4 chapters. As is typical with my relationship with author, David Brooks. But this book has given me much food for thought, many references for further reading, and a wonderful appreciation for the character of those who have come before me.

A wonderful quote in the book by civil rights leader Bayard Rustin pretty much sums it up:
"The only way to reduce ugliness in the world is to reduce it in yourself."

1 comment:

  1. Dad and I watch him every Friday on PBS, he is one of a very few Republicans that we like!! They had a wonderful interview on PBS with him for the book. Very insightful for a Republican :) m