Originally Posted by Found Goat
The Road To Character (2015) by David Brooks.
Here are just some of the positive terms either used throughout this one-of-a-kind literary masterpiece or that come to mind while reading it:
In this generally hard-hearted, self-indulgent age of ours, one seldom hears these beautiful words anymore.
The most remarkable thing about The Road To Character is that it hasnít been written by a religious preacher nor some New Age guru but by a university professor, and a high-minded one at that: a man who knows the meaning of values and virtues and who sees a society, a world, for the most part, sorely lacking in these.
The Road To Character reads like a bible for the secular moralist. God and Christianity are occasionally mentioned in passing, but the book isnít the least bit sermonizing in tone.
Mr. Brooks talks at some length on the matter of sin. Sin? Yes, *sin*. In these overall godless times, it has (as with the word *soul*) become one of those words bordering on linguistic extinction.
This exceptionally uplifting and refreshing read might be described as moral philosophy, an exceptional literary rarity brimming with page after page, paragraph after paragraph, and sentence after sentence of eloquently worded intellectual gems; a work teeming with profundities. The sagacious Mr. Brooks is a man of moral depth and there is such an abundance of well-stated pearls contained within this book that it had me reading it Ė in slow, lingering, meditative fashion Ė repeatedly.
The thematic crux here is that most people are focused on improving themselves on a superficial level and becoming a ďsuccessĒ by worldly standards, all the while neglecting to look after the inner state of their being. Really, how many people whoíve done well and have ďmade it,Ē say, in business or politics, and who perhaps have attained high positions, embody or are known to display the qualities highlighted above?
Where else might you find another book like this one? My guess is, hardly anywhere. Itís that unique. Indeed, if I were to make a Top Ten list of the most insightful books Iíve ever read, this title would not only make the cut, but be among the top three.
The Road To Character profiles eight historical figures known for their admirable magnanimity, and upstanding and honorable characters.
The meaning of what it is to be noble is discussed. One learns that being noble does not mean an aspiring to being perfect but rather an aspiring to learn from oneís past mistakes.
Morality. Mr. Brooks reflects upon morality at some length and how it means having a sense of right and wrong, a conscience, a clear understanding that itís not all good.
In essence, being a person of character is certainly not about being priggish or puritanical. Rather, itís about being high-minded, not self-righteous. Itís about striving after goodness, not perfectionism.
Sin. Sin is often thought of as being strictly existing within the context and domain of religion and the various theologies associated with it. Many people associate sin with ecclesiastical control and the suppression of natural urges. Although the word is infrequently used nowadays by non-religious folks, sin, as the author explains, still exists, as it always has and likely always will.
On the matter of do-goodism, for sure selfishness and sloth are to be criticized, but becoming a person of character, as the book discusses, is primarily a quiet, patient, and highly private affair, with the subsequent motivation to help others stemming from the heart and not with the intent of drawing attention to oneself. On this note as well, what Mr. Brooks says of altruism is that it may not always be motivated by true selflessness; that performing good works, when not done humbly and with a sense of genuine self-effacement, can also be a form of ego-stroking, whether publicity is sought after or not.
Itís mentioned also, how another term for self-repression (considered by many to carry a negative connotation) could be self-restraint; how performing manual labor and chores neednít be considered lowly forms of work; how important it is for people to have a sense of direction and purpose in their lives outside of their occupations or professions; and how structure and order provides a sense of meaning in oneís life.
It could be said that The Road To Character is truly evolutionary ... in that it deals with the evolution of oneís personal character on a spiritual level.