Résumé and Eulogy Virtues

Résumé virtues are what people bring to the marketplace: Are they clever, devoted, and ambitious employees?

Eulogy virtues are what people bring to relationships not governed by the market or simpler the ones talked about at their funeral: Are they kind, brave, honest, and faithful partners and friends?

People should prioritise eulogy virtues. But everything the society ought to consider bigger than work – family, faith, love, relationships, ethics, kindness – turns out to be secondary. By our own actions, in the current period of economic instability, looks like we strongly prefer résumé virtues for ourselves and especially for our children. Our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to build inner character.

It can’t be healthy for our society to convince its young generation that professional success matters more to life than values such as human decency, generosity of spirit or capability of deep love.

People with strong eulogy virtues are made, not born, slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments. Here some experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life:

  1. Humility: Awareness of your own weaknesses and derived behaviours while being in a culture of performance, ego and self-centrism.
  2. Self-defeat: External success is achieved through competition with others but character is built during the confrontation with and overcome of your own weakness.
  3. Dependancy: Life is often pictured as an individual and autonomous journey but people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. We all need redemptive assistance from outside.
  4. Gifted Love: That kind of love, such as giving birth, decenters and overcomes the self. It reminds you that your true riches are in another. It electrifies. It puts you in a state of need and makes it delightful to serve what you love.
  5. The call: We all go into professions for many reasons: money, status, security. But some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling. These experiences turn the self into instrument. Living up to the standard of excellence inherent in their mission is all that matters.
  6. Conscience leap: In most lives there’s a moment when people strip away the branding and status symbols, the prestige that goes with having gone to a certain school or been from a certain family. They leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.

Adults are always telling students to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. But this is a vision of life that begins with self and ends with self.

To find your vocation, instead of asking “what do I want from life?”, what about “what is life asking of me?” and “how can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?”.

Source: The Moral Bucket List, The NYT