Moral Beauty

Dec 23, 2022 | Uncategorized

I’m grateful to Christine Sperber, a co-founder of the Modern Elder Academy, for introducing me to the concept of moral beauty, a term that she learned from Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Moral Beauty in its simplest form states that morality and beauty (and immorality and ugliness) are intrinsically linked. In other words, moral virtues, like honesty, kindness, empathy, etc., are beautiful traits in a person. Deceit, meanness, and other moral vices are then ugly whenever found in people

Once it had a name, it appeared.

Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to congress was an example of moral beauty regardless of political affiliation. Truth has no political affiliation. She was advised by her attorney, whose fees were paid, to testify that she didn’t recall when she knew that she did recall. That testimony would have allowed her to slip through the process without the notoriety and personal danger that she no doubt faces in today’s polarized political climate.

Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine had the opportunity to be taken to Poland before the Russian invasion where he could rule in exile. He chose to stay in Ukraine and lead his country in the fight against the Russians. He appeared at a joint session of congress in his battle fatigues, an ordinary man doing extraordinary things.

Examples like those inspire awe, the feeling of being in the presence of something vast and mysterious that transcends our understanding of the world. A better use of the word “awesome” than the popular usage today.

How many truly awesome things have you seen lately?

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