Or The Second Mountain

People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.  Thomas Merton.

This bog is because I am now reading David Brooks new book, The Second Mountain, The Quest For A Moral Life. I like metaphor, and the second mountain is a metaphor throughout. Very early in my writing and speaking about career development, I used the “climbing up the wrong career ladder” metaphor many times. I, of course, was not the only one. I believe Brooks’ concept of metaphorically climbing the First Mountain is like the “wrong ladder”. The goal of climbing Brook’s first mountain is self-satisfaction, individualism. The goal of climbing Brook’s second mountain is other-centered, interdependence.

There is great need today for living a moral life, in the world and in the United States of America. The rampant individualism of our ego-obsessed culture is a prison — a catastrophe, Brooks. There is good news and bad news in reviewing this book. The good news is that it spells out the collective morality I believe the world and America desperately need now. The bad news is that achieving this seems unlikely.

The goals of the first mountain are the normal goals our culture endorses — to be         a success, to be well thought of, to get invited into the right social circles, and to experience happiness. Then something happens. They sense there must be a deeper journey they can take. First they rebel against the ego ideal. Second they rebel against the mainstream culture. They’ve gone from self-centered to other centered. The world wants them to climb the ladder to success, but they want to          be a person for others.  David Brooks.

Reading this second mountain metaphor about the quest of a collective moral life and the movement from self-interest to the awareness of interconnectedness reminds me of my writing over 200 blogs promoting a collective worldview that is open and inclusive. Reading Brooks’ metaphoric book seems to force me to see the similar bad news about my own writing. And we are not the only ones writing about the need to reverse the individualism, self-thinking, tribalism, silo thinking, self-centered, me first believing and behaving and promote interdependent, other-centered, open-minded, companionate, inclusive  believing and behaving.

I am now struggling with my realistic view of the reality of human nature. What is the probability that the majority of the human population of the world will climb the second mountain in quest of a moral life and adopt a collective worldview that is open and inclusive? What about the majority in America? What about the majority in congress?

 She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong. Mae West

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  1. Eugene Unger says:

    Striving uncomplicated. They killed Jesus for being Focused on others . Loving them , helping them to see a better way. Love others as you love your self. His words not mine. All else is Vapor! What direction is your ladder going? Up? Down? Or is it a merry go round, not a ladder at all! Your getting kind of old to be on ladders? Choose



  2. Marianne says:

    The latest book of David Brooks sounds interesting. I think I’ll get it as I do really like his work. I always liked the ladder metaphor. I think people who believe everything that happens is meant to happen, would think there is no “wrong” ladder. In a way, I believe that as well. One might wish for another result, and it is wise to see the good in the result attained.
    As you, I am so discouraged with the morality or lack of it that seems to be turning more and more black.

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