Growth

by Tom Swift

Once the necessities for survival are satisfied, the struggle against sin and for virtue is the central drama of life. No external conflict is as consequential or as dramatic as the inner campaign against our own deficiencies. The struggle against, say, selfishness or prejudice or insecurity gives meaning and shape to life. It is more important than the external journey up the ladder of success. This struggle against sin is the great challenge, so that life is not futile or absurd. It is possible to fight this battle well or badly, humorously or with cheerful spirit. Contending with weakness often means choosing what parts of yourself to develop and what what parts not to develop. The purpose of the struggle against sin and weakness is not to “win,” because that is not possible; it is get better at waging it. It doesn’t matter if you work at a hedge fund or a charity serving the poor. There are heroes and schmucks in both worlds. The most important thing is whether you are willing to engage in this struggle.

-David Brooks, The Road to Character (2015)