No seriously, I find myself asking this question far too regularly these days. What about Trump? What does his presidency say about the USA? About the state of the world? About the state of each and every one of us? And perhaps most importantly, what does his presidency say about the future of the human race itself?
We are such an antipodal society: left or right? man or woman? gay or straight? black or white? rich or poor? us or them? I suspect future historians will earmark opposition as the trademark of these generations in the USA.
And whether you’re liberal, moderate, conservative, or alien, all of this antagonism probably causes you some level of anxiety.
My personal answer to anxiety about our world is self-education through reading. With this in mind, I’ve been inhaling political and societal books more in the past two years than in any time prior in my life (except perhaps college). Here are some of my recommendations if you use the same method to heal your soul and make sense of the turmoil that surrounds us:
Guns, Germs, & Steel
by Jared Diamond, PhD
Besides A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich (which if you haven’t read it, you really should), this is my favorite book about world history, bar none. First recommended to me by Simon Sinek, this book argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion –as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war –and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. Exhaustively researched, well-written, and engaging to read, this book is a must read in order to understand many of the factual (rather than racial or ethnic) factors as to why our world power structure is the way it is today.
Muchier scale: 9 out of 10.
by Colin Woodard
This book at last helped me understand the underpinnings of the true divisions that separate us in this nation–far beyond simply rural vs. urban or secular vs. religious. Woodard asserts that there are actually eleven historical nations that make up North America, each quite different from the other, and these differences continue to shape our arguments in politics and how then we should live.
Muchier Scale: 8 out of 10.
by Nancy Isenberg
This book shocked and horrified me, but more importantly educated me about the entrenched social hierarchy of the United States built over the last 400 years. So much for the myth of America’s “classless society.”
Muchier Scale: 8 out of 10.
Disagreement is rampant these days and it seems as though everyone is full of opinions and convictions that conflict. It can be upsetting to live near people who so vehemently avow a different way of thinking, being, and living than what we choose. However, I also know that, no matter how distasteful we find the beliefs and convictions of others, the people we don’t get along with are often exactly whom we need most right now. It reminds me of the lyrics to the song “Being Alive” from the musical Company: