What We Learned in 2022
For The Free Press, FAIR Advisor Bari Weiss highlights reflections on 2022 from various luminaries, including FAIR Advisor Thomas Chatterton Williams who writes about learning to hold his tongue (and his tweets.)
“Have more than you show, speak less than you know,” the Fool waxes sagely in King Lear. I always thought that was a good line, but watching others this past year—and, if I’m as honest and self-critical in retrospect as I need to be, the two years that preceded it watching myself—have driven home its timeless wisdom. Indeed, Shakespeare could never have anticipated how right he would be given the technological smorgasbord of outlets for oversharing we all have at our disposal today.
As my best friend told me during one of the many Twitter pile-ons I’ve been subject to, “The more opinions and views and takes you blithely send out into the ether, the more you’re like a boxer—the more body you inevitably expose.” Sometimes receiving the hits yourself is less instructive than witnessing people you’d once held in esteem volunteer for reputational beatdowns from which none of us could recover.
This is the year I learned to tweet less.
Why would anyone want to attack all of our heroes? Why would they want to wage war on these of all people? The answer was given by the Lincoln scholar I spoke with, Andrew Fergusson. Loving Lincoln, he said, is a way of loving America. And so hating on Lincoln is a way of hating on America.
There is a great truth in there. That the people who are warring on the reputations of our great founders and heroes are in fact trying to deliberately dismantle this country: hero by hero. These critics want to say that there is nothing good about us, that we never were good and that the whole thing was rotten from the start. If you want to push that agenda you can push it fastest by trying to pull down all the idols of the country.
Well it is time that Americans pushed back against this. It is something I am trying to arm people to do, in my own small way. I think this country is an extraordinary place. If I didn’t then (like millions of others) I would never have made my way here. But America is amazing not by accident, but by design. It is time we understood that design, and paid due reverence to the designers themselves. Because we have not just something — but everything — to be thankful to them for.
For Free Black Thought, Jewel Kinch-Thomas writes about giving the transformative gift of radical grace.
A radical gifting of Grace…
Grace is not only for special or traumatic situations—and it should not be reserved for those we care about the most. When you do something unexpected for someone whom you may not even know, or for someone who may or may not be deserving, it raises the bar for all of us to aspire to.
What if, like the mycorrhizal network, we help facilitate the health and wellbeing of all those around us every instance of every day that we are able?
What would it look like if we were the bearers of radical Grace and made gifting it to people our normal and natural rhythm?
Jonathan Haidt on the ‘National Crisis’ of Gen Z
For the Wall Street Journal, Tunku Varadarajan writes about FAIR Advisor Jonathan Haidt’s warning about a generation warped by social media and a victimhood culture, and how this will imperil American culture and capitalism.
At the same time, social media promotes an organizational culture of fear. “If corporations become less effective because everyone’s afraid of Twitter, afraid of what will be said about them,” he says, “this could severely damage American capitalism.” When managers are “afraid to speak up honestly because they’ll be shamed on Twitter or Slack, then that organization becomes stupid.” Mr. Haidt says he’s “seen a lot of this, beginning in American universities in 2015. They all got stupid in the same way. They all implemented policies that backfire.”
Mr. Haidt, who describes himself as “a classical liberal like John Stuart Mill,” also laments the impact of social media on political discourse: “Social media is incompatible with liberal democracy because it has moved conversation, and interaction, into the center of the Colosseum. We’re not there to talk to each other. We’re there to perform” before spectators who “want blood.”
Is there a solution? “I’d raise the age of Internet adulthood to 16,” he says—“and enforce it.”
In 2023, Let’s Rediscover Wrongness
For his Substack, Singal-Minded, Jesse Singal writes about the attention economy and how not every difference of opinion is an urgent threat.
In 2023, I hope we can rediscover wrongness. Mere wrongness. Wrongness untethered from other accusations. Not everything that is wrong is dangerous or evil or bigoted. Sometimes people are just wrong. A big part of human life is arguing over who is wrong and attempting to nudge this whole ungainly human enterprise toward rightness, a few painstaking microns at a time. It’s harder to do that when the pitch of everything is so shrill.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people who believe crazy things don’t hurt anyone. No one is going to bomb an airport over Ancient Apocalypse. Even the truly deranged QAnon conspiracy theory, which does posit an international conspiracy of pedophiles, has produced only a blip’s worth of real-world violence. In the vast majority of cases, wrongness is just wrongness. People can usually believe wrong things without being dangerous, and in fact billions of people do hold religious beliefs that make no logical sense without becoming violent zealots.
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