One measure in evaluating the exercise of writing weekly blogs for you, dear reader, is whether topics raised are but fleeting moments in time or will become part of a larger conversation after they have been posted. I hope that by providing perspective early in an ongoing social discourse, these writings increase your civic value as you engage with others in the public square. One helpful discipline is to occasionally review past postings to see how issues addressed become part of broader conversations subsequent to being posted here.
On September 28, the title posed the question: Will We Be Okay? and expressed wonder about our nation’s future. The previous week, at President Trump’s campaign-style rally in Alabama, he excoriated NFL and NBA players, predominantly black, for disrespecting the flag and the national anthem. Yet, I found in these athletes an example of courage that gave me great hope. Later in the week, the kick-off of my book tour took place at the US State Department where I experienced profound professionalism in government employees, reassuring me that our nation is in good hands. This week, in response to controversy erupting over President Trump’s handling of four Special Ops personnel killed in Niger, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with other leaders like Sen. John McCain, former President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, in separate presentations, reminded us of what dignified public service is like. My response now, as then: yes, we will be okay.
On October 5, In a week of headlines about a chaotic White House, the aftermath of devastating hurricanes and the horrific massacre of innocent concert goers in Las Vegas, I reflected on whether these events were rendering drumbeats of war on the Korean Peninsula as “white noise,” masking a very serious threat to world peace. I quoted extensively New York Times columnist Nick Kristof who warned us not to underestimate the strategic thinking of Kim Jong-un and concluded with this sobering thought: “War is preventable, but I’m not sure it will be prevented.” Now, two weeks later, October 20, Kristof repeats his admonition on NPR That we remain vigilant about the dynamic between our two nations’ leaders because the stakes are so high.
Last week, in response to the scandal prompted by Harvey Weinstein, I asked the question: where are the men condemning these vile allegations of sexual abuse? My intent was to challenge male readers to take responsibility for creating a culture where abuse of women—from subtle to repugnant—has become commonplace, not just in the entertainment industry, but throughout society. Since that post, some men have stepped up, including Quentin Tarantino. Danny Brown, in The Medium, with language that is both raw and direct, castigates men for their demeaning behavior towards women, even as teenagers, and acknowledges his own role in contributing to this unhealthy environment. Hundreds of thousands of women from every corner of society have courageously engaged in the #MeToo campaign, including my wife Blythe, telling stories of past abuses. In The Guardian, Jessica Valenti proclaims now that we have “named the victims, let’s list the perpetrators.“ The conversation has been joined in earnest. All of us must participate if we are to achieve lasting, transformational change in our culture.
In each case, these posts have anticipated events that would resonate beyond the moment. I hope these writings have proven valuable to you as you engage others on these important issues. You are invited to keep reading and, as always, to join the conversation.