David Brooks acknowledges that all of us, as human beings, strive to be morally fulfilled. But he also warns that in the current times of increasing individualism—both economic and social—an abstract notion of possibilities and a vague sense of competition can distract from this mission. We want to keep our options open. But in doing so, we diminish our ability to engage with our moral selves through commitment, inner dialogue, and disciplined practice.
DateMay 5, 2015TitleFree Library Podcast: David Brooks – The Road to CharacterSegment00:45:10 – 00:46:20David Brooks:
I run into so many people, especially my students where I teach, who are desperate—they know life should have a purpose, they don’t know how to find it, they don’t have the vocabulary to find it. But they’re so hungry. And I find that in the younger generation, maybe more than any generation, they’ve lived in such a competitive world. And you know I teach at Yale so it’s a unique strata. I ask my kids what are you doing on spring break and its like “I’m unicycling around Thailand while reading to lepers,” that sort of thing. But one of them said to me, “we’re so hungry.” They’re so hungry to feel morally fulfilled. And they’re so hungry to find the commitment. They have what they call FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out. And that means they want to try everything, but to really lead a life of integrity you got to commit to one thing—you got to say a thousand No’s for a few precious Yeses. And they have trouble with that. I found it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, people are born with a moral imagination, they want to lead righteous lives and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, everybody has this.