I am watching way too much television and reading far more than I should about politics. I do not need to know what forty-four liberal thinkers think about what Donald Trump’s tweets are doing to the capacity of the United States to promulgate NATO power in the Baltic states. Nor do I need to hear forty-five conservative voices respond to questions about the effects of repeal of the Affordable Care Act by prefacing their answers with the phrase that goes some version of “first, let’s be clear, Obamacare is a disaster.”
What I need is an intervention. I need forty-six of my closest friends to knock on my door and say “Drew, step away from the TV.” I need them to take me to a nice park on the outside of town where there is a bench where I can sit and read a book. Put a dozen old National Geographic magazines in my hands, or better yet, poetry. Let me read about the most important archeological digs of the last ten thousand years. Or anything that has the word “transcendental” in the preface, or prologue, or afterword, dedication, or back cover copy.
Actually I have read two books lately that calm me down about what I fear may be just around the corner. The first is Sapiens by Harari, a history of mankind that takes the reader through the evolution of humans from hunter gatherers to farmers, describes the rise of empires, religions and philosophy, and even describes what “capitalism” really means. The book is both ambitious and humble, as the writer often says we do not know why certain things happened, they just did.
The second book is George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years. The work considers life developmental stages of nations, the demographic forces and the resource realities that will predict what peoples and what countries will succeed and still be here a hundred years from now. He suggests how overpopulation and climate change will be mitigated. He names the date at which our government will be paying Mexico to send people to the United States. He describes the nature of war in 2080 and who will win the first space battle.
These books have a calming influence on me. They help me gain a sense of peace about my brief presence in the world, and how it is unfolding, perhaps not as it should, but as it must.