What about Trump?

What about Trump?

Did my title catch your attention? 

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.

American Nations

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.

White Trash

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:

Someone to hold you too close
Someone to hurt you too deep
Someone to sit in your chair
And ruin your sleep
And make you aware of being alive
Someone to need you too much
Someone to know you too well
Someone to pull you up short
And put you through hell
And give you support for being alive, being alive
Make me alive, make me confused
Mock me with praise, let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive!
Somebody hold me too close
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through
I’ll always be there
As frightened as you of being alive
Being alive, being alive!
Someone you have to let in
Someone whose feelings you spare
Someone who, like it or not
Will want you to share a little, a lot of being alive
Make me alive, make me confused
Mock me with praise, let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive!
Somebody crowd me with love
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through
I’ll always be there
Frightened as you to help us survive,
Being alive, being alive, being alive, being alive!
–From the song Being Alive by Dean Jones and Stephen Sondheim

After all, we are all alive in this together.

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