The Road to Character

In my post of January 26, 2012, I offered some of the great quotations on character.  When I was tutoring, each week I would put a quotation on a 3″ x 5″ card for the student(s).  Each related to character.  To me, the reading, writing and arithmetic are all important.  But developing character is just as (more?) important.  For students, friends, family, strangers and politicians. 

I just finished David Brooks wonderful work The Road to Character.  Brooks opens with reference to the end of World War II — a victory of epic proportion.  He observes that our parents and grandparents did not go around telling each other how great they were.  The collective impulse was to warn themselves against pride.  And self-glorification.  But Brooks observes that we have seen a shift in ensuing generations from a culture of humility to a culture of I am the center of the universe.  Brooks calls it “The Big Me.”  Fame and fortune used to rank low as life’s core ambitions.  Today, those goals have skyrocketed to the top.  And your government now censors the teaching of virtue, character and integrity in schools.

The word “sin” was the moral tug that helped remind us that life is a moral affair.  But as Brooks comments “When modern culture tries to replace ‘sin’ with ideas like error or insensitivity, or tries to banish words like ‘virtue’ ‘character’ ‘evil’ and ‘vice’, it doesn’t make life any less moral.  It just means that we have obscured the inescapable moral core of life with shallow language . . . and we become increasingly blind to the moral stakes of everyday life.”



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