The answers to our diseased political culture all point to ourselves. Earlier this week, my wife, Patricia, and I were listening to the radio about the latest discussion surrounding the immigration and border security debate. She looked at me and said, “Nothing ever changes.” She’s right.
It has been nine years since the explosion of SB1070 here in Arizona and nearly 20 since immigration debate took hold in southern Arizona. The political back and forth continues to be a bottomless pit of recriminations and blame. Even more troubling, the immigration/border security debate itself is a microcosm of our larger political culture’s failure to create solutions capable of navigating differing social values. Personally, I’m exhausted by it.
In his recent column, David Brooks suggests a way out of the abyss, but it starts with each of us. In his well-researched “The Moral Peril of Meritocracy” which comes from his forthcoming book, “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life,” Brooks expresses his admiration for people whose lives have a “two-mountain shape.”
The first mountain is marked by individual goals – “shaped by our individualistic and meritocratic culture.” On the other hand, the second mountain is focused on something larger than the individual – “shedding the ego and dissolving the self.”
The article spoke to me deeply. I’ve written about this “Me First” culture which dominates our social media today and work every day to ensure that HighGround is committed to the second mountain. A few quotes from Brooks’ column to spark your own passion:
“On the first mountain, personal freedom is celebrated — keeping your options open, absence of restraint. But the perfectly free life is the unattached and unremembered life. Freedom is not an ocean you want to swim in; it is a river you want to cross so that you can plant yourself on the other side.”
“And the truth is that 60 years of a hyper-individualistic first-mountain culture have weakened the bonds between people.”
“The second-mountain people are leading us toward a culture that puts relationships at the center. They ask us to measure our lives by the quality of our attachments, to see that life is a qualitative endeavor, not a quantitative one.”
One of my personal favorite quotes is from author George Saunders. He says, “Anything is possible, stay open, forever, so open it hurts and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end. Amen.”