I’m going to start this post with a loud shout-out to public libraries. I love them, and I don’t think enough people appreciate them. I love them so much that when I was working full-time, I actually took a day of vacation just to go to the library because I felt like it, and it was awesome! That was arguably a more impressive library than many that I’ve been to (see below), but these days libraries have so much to offer. They have traditional books, audio books, digital copies of books, movies, magazines, and often tons of scheduled programs that are free to the public.
In addition to just being awesome, libraries often also have textbooks or “recommended reading” books for classes that you can borrow and read without having to spend any money. As a student on a very limited income, it’s worth it to check libraries.
I was lucky enough to find Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth by Derrick Bell. It’s listed as one of the suggested readings for Preparing the Future Professoriate and since I could easily get it for free…why not read it? I’ve only just begun, but have already enjoyed the lighter tones that Bell uses. It’s very much a book that offers his personal opinion on simply how to be ethical in a world that is often not supportive of that goal. What has stood out to me the most is how much Bell emphasizes the method of simply taking small steps which little by little cause you to make the right choice. Often, when we think about people who lived lives of meaning and worth, we think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. – Bell often mentions the civil rights as an area where many will face adversity. These people may have given their lives, their safety, or their comfort to stand for what they believed in. Personally, it’s extremely intimidating to think about these things because it seems like you have to make a grand move or you haven’t done anything. Looking at it as something that you do one step at a time makes it so much more accessible to me. How can I live a life of meaning and worth? By making the right choice – even when it’s difficult – one at a time. On page 36, I think he summarizes it best when he says that “living ethically is a process, a habit that must be refreshed frequently”.
What do you think about thinking about ethics as a process rather than a one time decision? Has anyone else been reading this book? What’s your favorite part?