Acclaimed writer David Brooks, analyst for the PBS Newshour, NPR’s All Things Considered and a columnist for the New York Times, was the speaker at the seventh annual Author Luncheon, hosted by and benefitting the Library Foundation for Sarasota County.
More than 650 people – the biggest turnout in the event’s history – came out to hear Brooks speak on “the cultural revolution we need.” Following a VIP reception at Art Center Sarasota, guests were greeted by Foundation Executive Director Sue Seiter, Foundation President Isabel Norton, Mark Pritchett and Veronica Brady from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Teri Hansen of the Barancik Foundation, who introduced Brooks.
The self-described political moderate said he knew he wanted to be a writer when he read Paddington Bear as a child and has since grown into what he would call “a bookish pundit.” He talked about growing up in a time of tight-knit communities, when people knew each other and helped each other in times of trouble. Times change, however, and the 1960s created what Brooks called “a new, individualistic culture.” We’ve had 60 years of this type of culture, he said, that brought about some good things like the civil rights and feminist movements, but left many people “chronically lonely.” The result? Skyrocketing suicide rates (up 30 percent over the last 20 years), the opioid crisis and a sense of distrust that led to tribalism, “an us vs. them mentality,” that’s led to erecting barriers.
The cultural revolution we need, Brooks said, occurs when we as individuals, and as a culture, are “broken open,” and begin reaching out for help, seeking out those who live – not for fame, money or power – but for a sense of community and common purpose. Then we begin building on those local successes.
“It happens when you seek not happiness (the expanding self), but joy (the disappearing self),” he said. “It is then that we find the ultimate triumph.“