As the snow falls softly this New Year’s Eve on our hideaway in the Colorado Rockies, I feel a welcome sense of seclusion from the outrage porn we have come to endure from the steady stream of farce and deceit pulsing through the wired and wireless reality that continues to warp our senses and worse, corrode our values. And yet, I can’t help but summon a cup of gratitude at having been granted the fateful gift of being born into a country that allowed me to become whatever I want: to associate as I please, to feel safe and secure, to pursue my dreams, and to enjoy the fruits of those pursuits by, in my case, living my final years in the most beautiful place in the world. Of course, being white and male helped a great deal, but I’ll set that convenience aside for another post.
The vast majority of Americans alive today were born after the great toils and sacrifices that made the United States the world’s lone superpower. We did not endure the sacrifices of our Founders, the horrid circumstances of the Civil War, being gassed by the Kaiser in World War I, the abject poverty of the Great Depression, or being one of twelve million Americans whose lives were imperiled or lost in World War II. I reflect on my grandfather’s life who, born in 1890, saw more than his share of hardship and challenge; an arc of life that began in a sod hut and ended just three months before an American walked on the moon. Our gift was to inherit a bounty of prosperity and goodwill made possible by people like my grandfather that allowed us the promise of the American Dream: to live a better life than those who came before us. All we had to do was keep the dream alive; to keep the flame of freedom burning for those who followed us.
Fifty years ago, several brainiacs from places like Harvard and MIT were asked to envision what life would be like today. For the most part, especially as they predicted advances in technology, they got it right. As Jill Lepore reconciled in The New Yorker, “most of the machines people expected would be invented have, in fact, been invented,” but “most of those machines have had consequences wildly different from those anticipated in 1968.” She illustrates further that people like Carlos R. DeCarlo, then the director of automation research at I.B.M., got the tech-side right while getting the human side terribly wrong when he argued that “the political and social institutions of the United States will remain flexible enough to ingest the fruits of science and technology without basic damage to its value systems.” Oops.
Wealth, even while distributed on the terms of equity rather than equality—the basis of capitalism—has allowed America to become by orders of magnitude more powerful than any other nation-state on earth. As Yuval Noah Harari reminds us in Homo Deus: a Brief History of Tomorrow, “ […]
“If you have no character your destiny is tragedy.” These words offered by former federal prosecutor John Flannery as he described the likely outcome of Donald Trump’s presidency and life. This notion of self-inflicted fate has been around for centuries as when Oedipus the King was advised by Tiresias, “Creon is not your downfall, no, you are your own” (Sophocles, circa 430 B.C.). The remarkable thing about the noose that appears to be tightening around […]
What follows here is a draft introduction of my next book, American Deliverance: Restoring the American Dream in the Post-Trump Era. I am sharing it with subscribers to provide an historical context and outlook on the question, What now? I hope to have it completed and published before we need it!
American Deliverance: Introduction
I was born in 1957, the peak birth year for Baby Boomers and the year the Soviets launched Sputnik into space which, just […]
The divisive tribal partisanship so many sociologists and political pundits talk about today may, in the November midterms in 2018 and presidential election in 2020, boil down to little more than an amplification of the gender wars previously explained in John Gray’s 1992 bestseller, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. A number of recent studies suggest Trump has succeeded in creating gender gaps in political preferences unseen in the history of American politics. […]
When my now nearly thirty year-old son was a toddler, his incessant demand was “Shall we read?” Or, phonetically, “Shall weeeee reeeeeed?!!” His favorite, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is probably why I still cringe at cottontail roadkill. My daughter also acknowledged the family affection for books when, at “Bring Dad to School Day” in third grade, she was asked to introduce me and, in typical Dallas fashion, was also asked to describe […]
In my most charitable description, 2017 was a wake-up call for America; a year marked by surprise, anger, sadness and regret. In 2018, each of us must consider the blessings of the past and the challenges of the future while embracing an honest assessment of the role we must play in setting a course that reflects the values and dignity of predecessor generations. 2018 like 1776, 1865, and 1945 is one of those seminal years […]
As a recently baptized sexagenarian, the years seem to be slipping by much faster although, thanks to Trump, the last one seems like five. I’ll add this decelerating time-warp deception to the list of Trump swindles since that bizarre night, one year ago, when the Trump family took the stage in the Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York City. Dazed by victory, their heads spun around the outcome no one, including them, expected allowing them […]