David Brooks kept an audience of hundreds rapt Thursday for a compelling 45 minute lecture on two competing codes of human conduct: the code of honor and valor that we associate with the Greeks, and the code of humility and love that we associate with Jesus Christ. In his estimation, we're at our best when we succeed in blending these codes, but we've largely abandoned both.Friedersdorf concludes:
But challenges to authority aren't mere attitude, mounted for their own sake as an intellectual pose. Challenging authority is in fact indispensable if authority is to remain just, legitimate, and tempered by the humility that is a precondition of good leadership. Brooks invokes Lincoln as an example of a great leader. He was mocked, challenged, and disrespected more ferociously than any political figure today. America's problem isn't its inability to follow, but its refusal to constrain its leaders in ways that force them to resist the temptations toward excesses inherent in their positions.