Author David Brooks will be the guest of Rockhurst University later this month, speaking about the road to character in today’s world. Among his many best-selling books are The Social Animal, The Second Mountain, and The Road to Character. He is a columnist for the New York Times and an analyst on PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered. A leading voice for integrity and virtue in our fast-paced landscape of busyness and success-driven ideals, he inspires us all to be better connected to our origin, nature, purpose, and destiny.
In The Road to Character, he explores the creation of humanity through the two stories of Genesis that give differing accounts of the first man. He distinguishes “Adam 1” who is unveiled in the first chapter of the Bible from “Adam 2” who is presented in the second. He associates Adam-1 with career and what we want from life while identifying Adam-2 with vocation and what life wants from us; Adam-1 is concerned with resume virtues (piling up personal success) and Adam-2 values eulogy virtues (characteristics that impact our loved ones and our surroundings). Adam-1 is ego-driven and manages our exterior contacts so that the masses can praise us while Adam-2 is soul-driven and tends to interior issues of integrity. Adam-1 looks at what we do while Adam-2 considers who we are. The contrast is not unlike that of Saint Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus which sponsors Rockhurst. Ignatius wanted to be a soldier who was admired for his battles and victories, a lady’s man who was known for his romance and appeal, a courtier who was seen for his prestige and influence. But he discovered that these things ultimately left him empty and wanting something deeper: what he called “desolation.” Yet he found “consolation” and enduring grace when he sought higher values through following Christ, the saints, and a profound moral code to orient him.
Father Richard Rohr, OFM, often contrasts a first half of life spirituality from a second half. The first is obsessed with gaining our identity, achieving success, and accumulating possessions, titles, and accolades; the second is concerned with sharing wisdom, disseminating things, and passing along the value of our experiences. Brooks’ Second Mountain lines up with this spiritual insight as he explains how we climb the first mountain with selfish intent seeking personal joy and satisfaction but, when we realize that it ultimately leads to unhappiness, we begin a second climb that is concerned with relationships and care for others—this leads to the true joy that we sought from the beginning and we realize that a meaningful, fulfilled, and happy life is not found in self-improvement but in a life of service to others.
Social Animal takes a long look at our unconscious minds and what drives individual decision-making. Taking important information from biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines, Brooks analyzes moral anchors that influence our instincts, choices, habits, and patterns of behavior. Though social animals seek a culture of trust and humility, we often go down other roads or climb other mountains. Brooks has a powerful way of encouraging us to rediscover our core values because they will lead us beyond our first instincts to a better life.
If you are interested in seeing Mr. Brooks, consider attending his presentation, “Walking the Road to Character Today” on Tuesday afternoon, March 28, 4:30, at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts; visit rockhurst.edu/leadershipseries or contact email@example.com. The gathering is part of the Rockhurst University Leadership Series that annually brings to town a well-known personality of good character to inspire students and the entire Rockhurst Family of Kansas City. Brooks will help us to shape our own Christian character and destiny.