By Belinda Brady, director, investments
The Community Foundation’s summer book club selection this year was “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life” by David Brooks. Brooks’ premise is that our lives consist of two distinct sequential phases. In simple terms, the second mountain is focused on leading a more rewarding life by serving others. Brooks contends that there is often a transformational season of suffering before people ascend the second mountain. Our book club discussion revealed the idea of life being a series of mountain ranges instead of Brooks’ narrower construct.
This book is well researched, exquisitely written and offers many suggestions on how to live a more fulfilling life. Brooks draws heavily on his own life journey as well as the stories of others to illustrate his points. He shares his religious background and related quests in the section on philosophy and faith, a section that provides much food for thought for those seeking to live a life of purpose. He also has a lot to say about education, including the shift in universities from a broad humanistic ideal, where the purpose “was to shape the students’ souls,” to a more segmented research approach, which tends to ignore wholistic connections and character development.
Brooks addresses community building too. He talks about “thick communities,” which have a distinct culture, and uses Atlanta’s own Morehouse College to exemplify a “thick institution that seeks to change a person’s whole identity” by engaging “the whole person: head, hands, heart and soul.” He also shares information supporting the benefits of implementing systematic strategies to find effective solutions for social concerns.
Much of what Brooks conveyed regarding community building resonates with the work we facilitate at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, where our donors are living a second mountain life. I recommend this book to anyone interested in exploring ways to live a more meaningful life and build thriving communities.