And yet, with ever more complicated ethical knots to untangle, it seems we've never had so few formal tools. For instance, fewer young Americans rely on Scripture as a way to understand what we are reading, watching, and experiencing on a daily basis. Instead, as columnist David Brooks posits, we are "social animals," constructing modern-day moral codes from a wide variety of source materials.
Don't be misled: Though we may go to church only on Christmas or celebrate Ramadan but skip the fasting, we are busily and earnestly engaged in reimagining the ethical life.
Life-guiding beliefs and the behavior that grows out of them, contrary to some doomsday lamentation, are not dying. In fact, Millennials volunteer at higher rates than any generation in history.
In poll after poll, they express a deep desire to make the world a more just place. The notion of service – once defined by established charities, Sunday schools, and academic credit – is beginning to grow up and move outside institutional walls. It is being infused with a sort of rogue authenticity and independence.