David Brooks: Tree of Failure

…this is where civility comes from ”” from a sense of personal modesty and from the ensuing gratitude for the political process. Civility is the natural state for people who know how limited their own individual powers are and know, too, that they need the conversation. They are useless without the conversation.

The problem is that over the past 40 years or so we have gone from a culture that reminds people of their own limitations to a culture that encourages people to think highly of themselves. The nation’s founders had a modest but realistic opinion of themselves and of the voters. They erected all sorts of institutional and social restraints to protect Americans from themselves. They admired George Washington because of the way he kept himself in check.

But over the past few decades, people have lost a sense of their own sinfulness. Children are raised amid a chorus of applause. Politics has become less about institutional restraint and more about giving voters whatever they want at that second. Joe DiMaggio didn’t ostentatiously admire his own home runs, but now athletes routinely celebrate themselves as part of the self-branding process.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Media, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Theology

11 comments on “David Brooks: Tree of Failure

  1. bettcee says:

    Pride was once considered a sin or at least a shortcoming but this generation seems to worship at the altar of Pride.

  2. montanan says:

    Don’t blame the generation – blame the parents of the generation (i.e. – me, not my kids).

  3. Chris says:

    the fruits of the self esteem movement are born. 🙁

  4. MarkP says:

    “blame the parents of the generation (i.e. – me…)”

    Why not? But also, why not blame the parents of the parents, who were so convinced by the quest for scientific modernity that they eagerly threw away their cultural traditions to accept whatever came packaged as “scientific”? (Dr. Spock wouldn’t have been persuasive to my parents unless he was a “Dr.”).

    Or don’t blame anybody. We’re all doing the best we can with the information and cultural currents we have. “The Greatest Generation” raised their children the way they did because they loved their children; “The Baby Boomers” raised their children the way they did because they loved their children; the cycle will continue. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the one constant is that each generation looks at their parents’ generation and thinks, “how could they possibly have thought that would be a good idea?”.

  5. Randy Hoover-Dempsey says:

    Another way to think about this is to put it in the context of sin. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Every one is stained by sin. As a result, we are led to humility about our own ideas and actions. There is always the possibility that we may be wrong, even–and maybe especially–in the the places we are sure we are right. Thank God, we have a Savior who “takes away the sin of the world.” We all may live in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  6. David Keller says:

    Re-read what Brooks is saying. He is saying disagreement is the same thing as uncivility. It is the old Sam Rayburn “go along to get along” attitude that has almost destroyed this country. The better way to look at it is to realise that heavy weight boxers and football captains shake hands before the match. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to do thier jobs or that they even like each other. What the left is doing (and Brooks is clearly part of the left) is not letting a good crisis go to waste. The left is attempting to hoodoo us into believeing that if we don’t agree with them then we are not being civil; or at least if we don’t compromise our principles (and our understaning of the constitution) we are somehow in the same boat as Loughlin. Not agreeing with the president is now equal to mass murder. We are also being told how civil they are and that they are now willing to “compromise” on Obamacare. It is the oldest leftwing trick of all time. They pass something that is way much more than they ever wanted, give you a bone, in the spirit of compromise and compassion, and end up with more than they ever really wanted in the first place. They may be giving us a bone, but they aren’t compromising their principles or view of the constitution. Don’t be fooled into believing David Brooks. He is a front man for left. If he wasn’t they would never publish his “op eds” in the NY Times.

  7. MarkP says:

    “put it in the context of sin”

    Good Lord, man, don’t you read the comments here? What’s wrong with the world isn’t about sin, it’s about liberals! Thank God we have a Savior who takes away the Left of the world!

  8. Chris says:

    #7, granted there are some secular conservatives, but which segment of our population, by and large, claims there is no sin? that if it feels good do it? that if kids feel good about themselves they will do the right thing? And how has that been working out?

  9. David Keller says:

    #7–The really Good News is that Jesus doesn’t care about politics. If he did, he would have been an obscure, rabble rouser who briefly overturned Roman rule in Judea and who was a footnote in some college history book. Instead He is the center of history.

  10. David Keller says:

    Forgot to say–The reason the Episcopal Church is falling apart at the seams is becasue it has become a political institution. TEC tries to use legislation and courts to accomplish political and institutional goals. General Convention makes the US political conventions look like a bunch of light weights.

  11. Milton says:

    #7 “The guilty flee when no one pursueth.”