Friday, July 17, 2009

a very short text for the common read

A couple of posts ago I wondered about the actual value of asking entering freshmen to read books before they come to campus, thinking that something much shorter might be much more powerful.

I've had the following quote sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks. It would be an interesting one to wrap a long-term, campus-wide conversation around.

"If the reconciliation of the common good with free persons in their weakness and division is one of the most crucial of all human tasks, we do well to heed the principles of lowliness. The most realistic solutions are not likely to be grand or lofty, but humble and concrete. Looking for them in the wrong place, or in the wrong mode, we are quite likely to miss them altogether. The principle of the most reliable guide in political philosophy."
--Michael Novak, Free Persons and the Common Good (Lanham, MD.: Madison Books, 1989), 73

At a time when we are talking about global crises, global citizenship, and people trying to fix the world, the question of lowliness is a really interesting one, especially in college where the reigning notion is not lowliness or humility, but pride and the desire to fix big things.

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