What is an “ideal?” Read the following closely.

1. a conception of something in its perfection.

2.  a standard of perfection or excellence.

3.a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for    imitation: ultimate object or aim of endeavor, especially one of high or noble character:

5.something that exists only in the imagination:
    Are we entering a time or have we long past the idea of “ideals?” Freud,told us that they are obsolete.  The war he enlisted in against ideals of character, love, courage, compassion to name a few are all but over. His middle class morality won.  Almost no one seeks ideal perfection; almost no one seeks the sublime. The culture of Self is virtually unchallenged, so why go to the trouble of reading and pondering a difficult thinker?  They demand to much of us. Freud’s ultimate verdict was on the life of Self,.. a life based on desire rather than hope has won the day as holding up ideals vacates the battlefield.
     The ideal of Compassion is central to the ministry of Jesus. Compassion is the new ideal, displacing the ethos of justice that pervaded  men’s thoughts.  Who is my neighbor, a lawyer listening to Jesus asked. Jesus answers the mans question with a story.  A man is beaten and robbed and left in a ditch. Members of his own group pass him by, leaving him to suffer.  But a Samaritan comes along, and he lifts the poor man from the side of the road.  He binds the mans wounds and mounts him on his own beast.  He takes the suffering man to an inn and pays his bill and says that he will return to visit the wounded man and settle his accounts.  Completing the story Jesus looks at the lawyer and asks, “Which of these was a neighbor to the unfortunate man?”
     Now a new ideal has entered the culture, one that says that Every man is my neighbor! But in our culture of the Self, religion is often merely a Sunday affair, or a way life that affirms the rule of the Father and his list of stiff rules.
     Courage, compassion, and serious thought: these are the great ideals of the ancient world.  And though their lights are dimming in the pragmatic, Self-seeking West, there is still time to revive them, examine them and if one is so moved, to bring them to one’s own life.

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