By Kaitlyn Tyra–Ready for an evening in Houston, LEAP students departed from Huntsville eager to attend a World Affairs Council Meeting to learn more about how to achieve moral character. Upon arriving at the Junior League in Houston, LEAP students, many of whom were visiting a World Affairs Council event for the first time, were amazed at how large the event was. In a sense, it was a double blessing, because not only did we hear Brooks’s words of wisdom, but we also had the chance to see how the professional staff at WAC run such large events.
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, bestselling author, regular analyst on National Public Radio, PBS News Hour, and a professor at Yale University, discussed the content of his latest book, The Road to Character. Brooks began by distinguishing between the two sides of every person, the internal and external. Citing Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, he distinguished between Adam 1 and Adam 2. Adam 1 is the career oriented Adam, while Adam 2 is the internal Adam who seeks strong moral character. The Road to Character is about Adam 2.
Brooks hearkened back to the WWII generation, which spoke often of “chivalry,” “honor,” “gratitude,” and “country,” while the younger generations today tend to think more along the lines of “me.” Citing one example, he referred to a survey taken in 1950 asking high-school seniors if they considered themselves to be a “very important person.” Twelve percent said yes. When the survey was replicated in 2005, 80 percent of the high-school seniors answered in the affirmative.
Rather than chastise groups of people, however, Brooks’s primary goal was to discuss the lives of leaders he admires: Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, George Marshall, and Frances Perkins. He explained how the lives of these great leaders inspired the writing of his book and how their struggles led to their success and the acquisition of greater character. They groped, through failure and hardship, on the road to moral character.
Brooks ended his speech by answering questions from the audience and signing books.
LEAP students were fortunate enough to have our books signed and take a group picture with David Brooks. Many thanks to Ms. Killidar, Ms. Situm, Ms. Baskota, and the entire staff of the World Affairs Council for hosting such a wonderful event…
…and allowing LEAP students to take advantage of an opportunity to learn and better ourselves.
Following the event, LEAP students enjoyed a delicious meal at Jerry Built Homegrown Burgers. A juicy burger and crispy french fries were the perfect ending to a great evening, not to mention we had the chance to experiment with automated hand-washers. Amazing what you learn on LEAP Center trips.
As we departed back to Huntsville, LEAP students reflected upon our road and what more we can do to become better leaders for LEAP, Sam Houston State University, and our local communities.