Beauty, properly understood, offers us a way of self-transcendence. Beauty leads us to participate in a truth that’s bigger than us. When we learn to participate in that beauty, we experience joy, and in some ways experience the true meaning of freedom.
Author: Margarita Mooney Suarez (Margarita Mooney Suarez)
As recent debates about critical race theory in education demonstrate, trying to solve social problems while neglecting universally recognized virtues acquired through self-mastery—virtues like hope and love—not only fails to build democracy, it also makes us angry, anxious, depressed, and divided. Educators should not ignore historical complexities and conflicts, but they also need to teach students about the universal principles that unite us and sustain the hope needed for social harmony.
I’m not only trying to show younger people the futility of a life based on achievement, but to show that there are ways of thinking about achievement that are better for your soul. One of them is to see your desire to achieve as being inspired by a vision of the good. Ultimately, in the highest things, you end up not thinking about yourself. Once you become excellent at something, whether that’s teaching or writing or being a tax attorney or being a doctor, you’re actually looking for the good of other people. It’s about how you make the lives of others better and encourage them in their pursuits.
I initially tried to explain forgiveness in terms of the psychological benefits to oneself, or even in terms of social harmony. But narratives of forgiveness as an outpouring of love correspond more to a different explanation of forgiveness: the desires of a heart that wants to expand. This is not a sentimental love; it is a love that seeks charity in truth, in justice, and in regarding our neighbor who has harmed us as a person deserving of the same merciful love that we ourselves have already been shown.
It’s more authentic to stand before a young person and humbly say, “I’ve found something I’m eager to share with you, and I want to provoke you to go on your own journey for the truth,” than to deny that teachers, mentors, and other role models are speaking from tradition with authority.
What are the ends of education? How do various conceptions of the human person influence our understanding of education? What does a liberal arts education look like in an educational system dominated by specialized fields of study and focused on credentials and skills? How do friendship and community relate to education?
How would you answer the basic question of philosophical anthropology: What does it mean to be human? How does that answer affect your life?
College students, like everyone else, want to be happy. Educators should help them ground this desire for happiness in acts of virtue.
Balancing career and family should not be framed as a women’s issue. All people—male or female, married or single—must draw boundaries between their work and their personal life, for their own good and the good of society.
Religious freedom is a universal human right. The plight of Haitian immigrants shows that religion can also be a vitally important means of integrating some of society’s most vulnerable members.