IVP - Andy Unedited - Two Views of Ourselves

August 7, 2012

Two Views of Ourselves

In a recent column, David Brooks recommends a wonderfully healthy form of personality disorder. While he begins a bit humorously, Brooks works his way to a serious conclusion when he suggests that we embrace two very different views of ourselves at the same time.

Brooks is seeking to addressself_made_man.jpg the same question Malcolm Gladwell investigates in Outliers--are we self-made people or the product of social, cultural and biological forces? The answer, in short, is yes. But how he gets us there is instructive. You see, the answer changes decade by decade.

Those of us who have been suckled on the American dream typically begin in our twenties thinking we are the architects of our own destinies. We will confidently achieve our goals, casting aside the limitations of our history and our environment. By the time we are beyond our fifties, however, we often see how "relationships are more powerful than individuals" and how deeply we "were formed by the ancient traditions of [our] people." This latter answer lines up with Gladwell.

Yet Books does not totally dismiss the former. We should embrace both answers, he says, both ways of viewing ourselves and the world. Practically speaking, we should not consider ourselves the victims of circumstances but seek to act in ways that reach beyond the past to achieve the good, the true and the beautiful. Morally speaking, however, we must never believe we deserve credit for what we accomplish. The credit goes elsewhere.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at August 7, 2012 9:08 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

Andy,I agree with the two of you wholeheartedly.I"m becoming a fan of both you and Brooks. Of course you come first. Paul

Comment by: Paul Woodard at August 7, 2012 10:57 AM

Brooks does have consistently good stuff. He's sharp. Worth regular reading. Thanks, Paul.

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at August 7, 2012 11:46 AM

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.