Cynicism often seems a smarter choice than idealism, and there are seemingly good reasons for this.
Politicians have disappointed us time and again, trusted institutions have proven silf-serving and corrupt, and social inequities persist and increase, unabated by even the grandest of charitable efforts.
Moreover, trends in contemporrary moral psychology support this bleak view of the human condition.
Famous studies have shown that we have an almost unlimited potential for cruelty when placed in the wrong situations.
Other studies imply that our moral responses are dictated by inborn biological intuitions, or that people do little more than act out conventional cultural scripts when confronted with moral chices.
The Power of Ideals presents a different vision, supported by a different kind of evidence.
It examines the lives and work of six 20th century moral leaders who pursued moral causes ranging from world peace to social justice and human rights. Using these six cases to illustrate how people can make choices guided by their moral convictions, rather than by base emotion or social pressures, authors William Damon and Anne Colby explore the workings of three virtues: inner truthfulness, humility, and faith.
Through their portrayal of the noble lives of moral leaders, the authors argue that everyone -including those of us with ordinary lives - can exercise control over important life decisions and pursue ideals that inspire us.
The Power of Ideals offers a hopeful and much-needed vision for moral progress in the worl.
This message flies in the face of contemporary thought in moral psychology, much of which has drawn mainstream media coverage in recent years.
But the more accurate, constructive, and inspiring view in The Power of Ideals provides a sound basis for helping all people achieve their moral potentials.
The Power of Ideals offers a needed and hopeful vision for personal well-being, for rebuilding trust among disillusioned citizens, for the flourishing of democracy, and for moral progress in the world.