The Second Mountain


The Second Mountain

David Brooks’s The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life provided guidelines for readers seeking to pursue a better life. He wrote about two hypothetical mountains. The first is ego-centric that’s when an individual is bent on having a career. While at a university such a person focuses on a major, he hopes will fulfill his dreams. The goal is to get a good job, get promoted, and excel at his work. Soon, this employee rises to the top, and feels as though he has conquered the world by being independent.

At this level of accomplishment, he feels on top of the first mountain. Suddenly, he suffers a wakeup call. He realizes that there was a lack of meaning in this quest. This awareness might have resulted from a death in the family, a sudden illness, accident, depression, or a feeling of despondency. Now, he finds himself in a valley below. But while in despair he rethinks his motivations for success, and comes to the conclusion that he should pursue a different course in life.

This sudden fall and sometimes humiliation have spurred him on a new trajectory. He arises out of this painful doldrum to pursue new goals. He begins to think about interdependence and how he could be of service to others. This causes him to join an organization, embrace some group that he likes, and to live a completely different lifestyle. This is when he has transitioned to the second mountain of his life. This individual may be much older now, and as a result was able to discover his true calling in life.

Brooks also wrote about marriage, the mistakes he has made, divorce, and remarriage. He also discussed the ramifications of faith. His embracement of Judaism and Christianity that followed, and how he came to be shaped by both traditions. In the latter part of the book, he pointed out why community was necessary. Brooks dissected some social organizations to show why they became successful in serving their communities. He ended the book with a manifesto that was basically a recapitulation of his discussion in the text.


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