We’ve pursued and achieved the modern dream of defining ourselves—but at what cost? The New York Post op-ed editor makes a compelling case for seeking the inherited traditions and ideals that give our lives meaning.
As a young father and a self-proclaimed “radically assimilated immigrant,” opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari realized that when it comes to shaping his young son’s moral fiber, today’s America comes up short. For millennia, the world’s great ethical and religious traditions taught that true happiness lies in pursuing virtue and accepting limits. But now, unbound from these stubborn traditions, we are free to choose whichever way of life we think is most optimal—or, more often than not, merely the easiest. All that remains are the fickle desires that a wealthy, technologically advanced society is equipped to fulfill.
The result is a society riven by deep conflict and individual lives that, for all their apparent freedom, are marked by alienation and stark unhappiness.
In response to this crisis, Ahmari offers twelve questions for us to grapple with—twelve timeless, fundamental queries that challenge our modern certainties. Among them: Is God reasonable? What is freedom for? What do we owe our parents, our bodies, one another? Exploring each question through the life and ideas of great thinkers, from Saint Augustine to Howard Thurman and from Abraham Joshua Heschel to Andrea Dworkin, Ahmari invites us to examine the hidden assumptions that drive our behavior and, in so doing, to live more humanely in a world that has lost its way.