Does character and integrity still matter in the 21st century?

David Brooks unpacks a counter-culture to the pursuit of happiness, using rich words like: depth, soul, virtue, character, integrity, love, sacrifice, obedience, grace. David Brooks is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, a journalist, and culture commentator. And thanks to Bob Buford‘s email update “Museletter,” he included (some of) his notes from Aspen Ideas Institute 2014.First, Bob shared his musings about that talks by David Brooks and then a link to the video to see for yourself:

Personally: Losing Our Moral Core

David Brooks never fails to dazzle. Rallying ideas from a surprising list of thinkers such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Dorothy Day, Augustine, and Rabbi Soloveitchick (who coined the Adam 1/Adam 2 dichotomy that Brooks loves to refer to), Brooks built a fresh and humbling case to balance worldly success with personal significance-or as he put it, to spare the moments in a publicity culture to build our souls.

Wait, souls? Brooks’ word was core. “Some core piece of yourself, when you make a decision,” he said, “you make it slightly better or worse. If you make disciplined and selfless decisions, you reinforce core tendencies in the self. If you make selfish or short-sighted decisions, you’ll fragment or degrade that core piece of yourself, even if you’re not hurting anybody else.”

As he did last year, speaking to the cream of the top 1 percent, Brooks warned of losing our moral center, which, in that crowd, took me aback.  Ennobling ideas of suffering, internal struggle, obedience and acceptance-he urged us to make the time to acquire real depth.

“I’m calling it depth,” he said. “You can call it holiness.”

As it happens, I do call it holiness, and Brooks’ talk brought to mind Peter Drucker’s saying America cannot survive without its foundational values, and that churches are vital to our nation in particular.

One of the questions that Brooks presented is: what do we admire about people of depth? The David Brooks’ talk at Aspen Ideas Festival is titled– The Road to Depth: Thinking about what Character Is and the video is online:

Description of the talk: “Some people seem to lead inner lives that are richer and more substantive than the rest of us. How do they do it? This talk is a survey of some of history’s most substantive characters. How love, suffering, struggle, surrender and obedience lead them to their depth.”

Do you aspire to be a person of depth? What can possibly motivate someone to do the actions that are right and good and lasting? Can you see how character and integrity is truly the hallmark secret sauce to making the world a better place?