What Moral Heroes Are Made Of

Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to be around a lot of people who I would regard as moral heroes. They spend their lives fighting poverty, caring for the young or the sick, or single-mindedly dedicated to some cause. I’ve been wondering what traits such people tend to have in common.

The first is that they didn’t overthink their decision before choosing to live this way. They didn’t weigh the costs and benefits or wage any internal battle with themselves. As Anne Colby and William Damon write in “Some Do Care,” a book that has organized my thinking on this subject: “We saw an unhesitating will to act, a disavowal of fear and doubt, and a simplicity of moral response. Risks were ignored and consequences went unweighed.”

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