A Moral Bucket List

What’s on your moral bucket list?

I love it when people write about things that support our parenting priorities, and David Brooks has done just that with his piece in the Sunday (April 12, 2015) New York Times.

Brooks starts his piece by saying that he doubts his own “generosity of spirit or depth of character” – something he sees in others from time to time. Since Brooks writes often about character, one would think that he wouldn’t doubt himself in that arena; by admitting this, he starts off by modeling The Humility to Ask For and Accept Help. 

Brooks talks about two sets of virtues:  the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. We all can figure out the difference between those two as it sounds like Character Culture vs. Achievement Culture. He points out that “our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light.” Attitude over Aptitude?

I won’t go on trying to connect each of his points to one of The Biggest Job’s priorities. Suffice it to say that these priorities, although they started out as tools for parents, are great tools for living our lives. For sure, Brooks is advocating that we need to inspire ourselves and those around us by looking at our moral bucket list.

He admits it might be gimmicky, but says, “Here are some of the experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life”:

  • The Humility Shift: being honest about your own weaknesses
  • Self-Defeat:  “…Character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness”
  • The Dependence Leap: …”people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own… we all need redemptive assistance from outside.”
  • Energizing Love: “… [the] kind of love [that] decenters the self” – gets us out of our self-centeredness and helps us make commitments to doing good.
  • The Call within the Call: what turns a career into a calling?
  • The Conscience Leap: “People on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me?”

Brooks’ article is adapted from his new book, The Road to Character. I highly recommend reading the article: