I can’t get one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory out of my head. It is a very timely book. The descriptions and message fits where our culture is today. It helps me understand myself and others today. I more fully understand those whose views on what is important in life differ from my views. The book is The Road to Character by New York Times columnist and political commentator on the PBS Newshour, David Brooks.
Mr. Brooks describes two sets of virtues that we internalize as we strive for success and making our mark in the world. They are resume’ virtues and eulogy virtues. The resume’ virtues are those talents, skills, and accomplishments that we include on our job resume’s, such as what we have accomplished, the awards we have received, or status in society. The eulogy virtues are those characteristics of us that are described at our funeral in a eulogy, such as patience, faithfulness, and friendship. As Brooks describes it, in the first stage of our adult life we strive for the resume’ virtues and in the second sage of our life we focus on the eulogy virtues. It is important to know that these two stages do not have predetermined time spans, and in varying degrees we can have both stages occurring somewhat simultaneously.
The author describes these two stages as Adam I and Adam II in the beginning of the book. Then he uses nine chapters, focusing on nine individuals to show how these virtues play out. The descriptions of these individuals in history, their actions and virtues, kept me spellbound making it difficult to put down the book. After reading it I find more patience with those whose views and actions in life different significantly from mine. It’s not so much, now, that they are wrong as it is that they are seeing and living their lives differently than I do.
The Road to Character has definite spiritual aspects to it, for various reasons we do not have the book in our inventory. It is available in your local independent bookstore, no doubt.