Friday, June 10, 2016

The New Traditionalism of David Brooks

In a recent essay in The New York Times, David Brooks calls for a new culture war.  And he's got a compelling vision.

In a world that's ripping itself to shreds over issues that come to feel ridiculous, no matter which side you're on, his vision is refreshing.  He says, "The larger culture itself needs to be revived in four distinct ways: We need to be more communal in an age that’s overly individualistic; we need to be more morally minded in an age that’s overly utilitarian; we need to be more spiritually literate in an age that’s overly materialistic; and we need to be more emotionally intelligent in an age that is overly cognitive."

He calls us to create a new traditionalism, a mindset that would remind us that there's more to us than our mindset or our physical selves.  He uses the word "soul."  He says, "If public life were truly infused with the sense that people have souls, we would educate young people to have vocations and not just careers. We would comfortably tell them that sex is a fusion of loving souls and not just a physical act. We’d celebrate marriage as a covenantal bond. We’d understand that citizenship is a covenant, too, and we have a duty to feel connected to those who disagree with us."

He reminds us that the stakes are high:  "The soul can be elevated and degraded at every second, even when you’re alone not hurting anybody. Each thought or act etches a new line into the core piece of oneself."

This is true of individuals and true of governments.  If we believed in that truth, we'd be making very different decisions these days.

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