2. Be Open
Today, like never before, there is a pull towards being closed.
Our online media diets tend to be polarized as streams of algorithmic feeds optimized to engage, addict and make us feel good about ourselves may leave us believing that the stink of some of our more flatulent thoughts have the aroma of Chanel No.5
Many politicians want to build walls, exit multi-state treaties and organizations, demonize the other, look away from reality, facts and truth.
Nationalism rises despite all the big challenges and opportunities are global in nature.
Let us start with the letter C.
Covid-19 is global. Climate Change is global. China’s impact is global.
Two new books (one looking back and one imagining forward) build the case for openness.
The Economist which reviewed Johan Norberg’s book says…
“Open” is clear, colourful and convincing, marshalling evidence from a range of eras and civilisations. The Roman Empire ceased to prosper when it ceased to be open. Christianity became the established religion, and sought to crush all others. “This new intolerance…led to vicious conflicts…between Christians and pagans, who saw their old gods being banned and their temples torn down.” Persecuted pagans joined Rome’s enemies, even welcoming barbarian invaders as liberators.
Human history, in Mr Norberg’s telling, is a cacophony of drawbridges being lowered and then raised. Mathematics and medicine flourished under the cosmopolitan Abbasid caliphate, but froze when religious conservatives won control. By driving out Jews, Muslims and heretics, he argues, the Inquisition helped impoverish Spain (between 1500 and 1750 the Spanish economy actually shrank).
Of all the books of Poetry I have my favorite remains the first book I bought forty years ago which you can see through its wear and tear and is the one I would recommend to anyone wanting to discover the beauty of Poetry. Start with Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Tennyson and Dylan Thomas . It was published first in 1952. Its author died in 1964. You can still get it on Amazon and in most book stores…