Books · The World

On Tyranny – Little Things You Can Do To Save The World

In America, we have the assumption that tyranny naturally comes from the government. After all, our whole origin story is based on some scrappy settlers rebelling against a meddling, powerful empire.

But the January 6 siege of the US Capital showed us that tyranny can also come from common American citizens, determined to disrupt the own constitutional process, spurred on by distributing, nonsensical, violent theories. It’s a reminder that tyranny can happen here, and it may come from the most unexpected sources. 🤔

“We see ourselves as a city on the hill, a stronghold of democracy, looking out for threats that come from abroad. But… human nature is such that American democracy must be defended from Americans who would exploit its freedoms to bring about its end.”

With this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to visit practical tips from book On Tyranny. This book is full of simple lessons from 20th century Europe that we can apply to our own lives to help maintain our freedom in this really weird modern American scenario.

On Tyranny book cover
Look for the fun graphic edition coming this summer. 🙃

Contribute to good causes. (Some ideas: help make good information accessible, empower people, fight hate, or go local.)

Pick a charity or two and set up autopay. Then you will have made a free choice that supports civil society and helps others to do good.

Support a newspaper or a magazine. Real journalism is tough work and needs your support.

“Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you. Take responsibility for what you communicate with others.”

Support the multi-party system. It is critical to have viable liberal and conservative parties vying for power.

Support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections. Vote in local and state elections while you can. Consider running for office.

Be inclusive. Take responsibility for the face of the world.

“You might one day be offered the opportunity to display symbols of loyalty. Make sure that such symbols include your fellow citizens rather than exclude them.”

I try my best. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Practice professional ethics. State election officials got tested this time around but stood strong, even dealing with violet threats. It’s a reminder that democracy doesn’t just happen automatically.

Maintain your rational, independent thought and individualism. Don’t let yourself get duped into something just because you like being part of a group (looking at you, yoga moms).

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.

The renunciation of reality can feel natural and pleasant, but the result is your demise as an individual—and thus the collapse of any political system that depends upon individualism.

Be a patriot. Love your country and the best of what it stands for.

A patriot… wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves.

A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.

So there are some simple things anyone can do to help. It’s easy but also hard.

History · Travel

Christmas Night Drama: Washington’s Crossing

Next time I’m in New York City 🙏, I’d like to see the original Washington Crossing the Delaware painting.

I’m sure you’ve seen this painting before, but it would be amazing to see it in its original, massive form (12′ by 21′) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There are so many fascinating things about this painting. Here are a few highlights, but I recommend listening to at least the intro of Washington’s Crossing to really appreciate it.

  • The painting depicts the secret Christmas-night 1776 launch of the momentum-grabbing surprise attack on the British and German soldiers occupying New Jersey.
  • At the time, five months after the Declaration of Independence, the new American army had seen defeat after defeat and was 90% destroyed. Thus the gloomy atmosphere with a hint of sunshine in the background.
  • The painting was made by German-American painter Emanuel Leutze in 1850 with a goal of promoting democracy in Europe and fighting slavery in the United States. 🤩
  • The painting makes efforts to show all kinds of people from all over America literally in the same boat together. This includes a black man, a big statement back in 1850 during slavery. The paining was used for abolition fundraising.
  • The copy in NYC was the second one painted by Leutze. The first went to his native Germany and was destroyed by a British bombing raid during World War II — Britain’s final revenge on the American revolution. 😆
Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.), Oil on canvas, American
History

The Tulsa Massacre of 1921

Quartz published the story of the Tulsa massacre of 1921, in which the burgeoning “Black Wall Street” neighborhood of Tulsa was set ablaze in a bizarre night of white racial rage. Hundreds or African Americans were killed, and many thousands lost their homes.

👉 We still don’t know just how much was lost in the Tulsa massacre of 1921

More than a thousand African American homes and businesses were looted and burned to the ground; you had a thriving community occupying more than 35 square blocks in Tulsa that was totally destroyed.

But the real story is how little we know about this, “the single largest incident of racial violence in American history.” This terrible story was purposefully forgotten, apparently out of shame.

Despite the gravity of the event, like other important chapters of African-American history, the Tulsa race massacre was all but deleted from the US’s collective memory for decades.

It is also interesting that this savage attack did not destroy the neighborhood, which came bouncing back stronger than ever after the violence. However, eventually the larger forces of “desegregation, urban redesign, and competition from large-scale white businesses” did it in. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Via Apple News.

History · The World

How the Coronavirus Compares With 100 Years of Deadly Events

This coronavirus pandemic has killed over 100,000 Americans alone. It has changed the way we live.

That’s pretty awful. But compared to other historical events, how bad is it?

This article shows how this pandemic compares to other major disasters of the last 100 years. It’s worse than the 1918 Spanish flu was in New York City and Boston, but still not as bad as the Spanish flu in Philadelphia. And not as bad the 2011 Earthquake and tsunami in Miyagi, Japan.

This article only covers the 20th century. I wish they could have included the Bubonic plague or other plagues to see how our current experience compares. 🤷🏻‍♂️

It’s a great visual to help understand a terrible event.

The World

It’s Time To Go On the Offensive Against the Coronavirus

I was talking with my kids about going after the virus the other day, half jokingly but also half serious…

I’m tired of sitting around the house waiting for the pandemic to solve itself. We didn’t win World War II sitting around the house hoping the Axis would surrender! We didn’t land on the moon waiting around doing nothing to see if somehow someone magically landed there!

It’s the same with the virus. We need to go after the virus! We need to hunt it down and destroy it until the planet earth is free if this deadly, hidden nemesis of all humankind.

It’s time for action!

As Winston Churchill would say, or rather did say, near the beginning of World War II…

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Winston Churchill – June 4, 1940

I joked with my kids that we should have a day where everyone in the world just Clorox’s every inch of the planet. “Inch by inch!” was our rally cry.

So I was pleased to see this article come up on The New Yorker, which offers more realistic and helpful ideas than a Clorox Day. Still, it basically says that that yes, we can and should go on the offensive against the coronavirus. It offers hope and something specific to actually do! 💪🏻🌎

👉 It’s Not Too Late to Go on Offense Against the Coronavirus

Thank you, Jim Yong Kim, inspiring physician and anthropologist. Via Apple News.

Austin · Travel

Distinctive Destinations

Here’s a great site for finding interesting historical sites in your area or when you travel.

👉 Distinctive Destinations

This is from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, so it’s authentic and not some kind of sales pitch or ad-driven site.

Here around Austin, they list the Elisabet Ney Museum and O. Henry Museum.

You can also get a nation-wide map of more places to explore. Maps + history + real-world sites? For me, that’s heaven. 🤷🏻‍♂️