The Authors of Our Lives

“Morality has had a hard time of it in the past half-century. It has come to represent everything we believe ourselves to have been liberated from: authority, repression, the delay of instinctual gratification, all that went with the religious, puritanical, Victorian culture of our grandparents. Virtues once thought admirable – modesty, humility, discretion, restraint – are now dusty exhibits in a museum of the cultural curiosities. Words like ‘duty,’ ‘obligation,’ ‘judgement,’ ‘wisdom’ either carry a negative charge or no meaning at all. What I have never seen clearly stated is the simple fact that systems of morality were (not always, but sometimes) an attempt to fight despair in the name of hope, and recover human dignity by reinstating us as subjects not objects, the authors of our deeds and of our lives.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 68