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Wisdom for the Wilderness

Preparing a new generation for uncertainty and flux.

Anne Snyder
Anne Snyder
Anne Snyder is the editor-in-chief of Comment magazine, a publication of Cardus, and the creator and host of Breaking Ground. From 2016 to 2019 she directed The Philanthropy Roundtable‘s Character Initiative, a program seeking to help foundations and business leaders re-envision the nature and shape of formative institutions needed for social and moral renewal in the United States. Her path-breaking guidebook, The Fabric of Character, was published in 2019. Anne is also a 2020 Emerson Fellow, a Trinity Forum Senior Fellow, and a Fellow at the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, a Houston-based think tank that explores how cities can drive opportunity for the bulk of their citizens. She has published widely, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

“It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.” “Learn to be, less do.” “The only constant is change.”

Popular proverbs like these have drenched our cultural landscape for as long as I can remember. Each time they’re rediscovered, preached and parroted as if an unprecedented level of enlightenment has been achieved.

Such truisms are not without merit, of course. They can serve as checks on our conceit of control. They offer a course correction on a meritocratic logic oriented toward achievement as the singular good.

But how do these wall hangings hold up when the world at large turns upside down, when it’s not just you—the individual—who needs to stop and smell the roses? What happens when a society that thought it was successful is shocked into realizing that it can no longer assume an infinitely upward path of progress or an ever more perfect union? What happens to human character when we lose confidence that a promised land for us and in our image exists, if only we believe the right things and work hard enough?

Continue reading at Comment.