Thomas L. Friedman and I are pretty much alike. Okay, okay, he is Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times while I write a blog followed a handful of people. Farrar Straus Giroux publishes his oeuvre while they send me exquisite rejections. But besides that, we are very much alike. In our worldview; in our attempt to take complex realities and distill their essence; in our belief that no matter how labyrinthine a situation may appear, there is always some way to resolve it with dignity and respect for all parties.
The World is Flat is a seminal book; it frames the twenty-first century in a way that fundamentally changed my perspective. Not all of his writing is as good, not all of his vignettes so compelling, but Mr. Friedman consistently has important things to say, and says them well. Proportionate to our readership, I try to do the same.
Sometimes I am actually ahead of his curve. In the NY Times Sunday Review of August 25, 2013 he wrote an incredible article, Foreign Policy by Whisper and Nudge that recast my understanding of why American foreign policy is so off track. He articulates the differences between cold war foreign policy (jockeying for external favors among nations) and our current challenges, which repeatedly get us entangled in the internal affairs of other countries. With regard to the Middle East he states a position that readers of The Awkward Pose may recall from my bicycle trip (Oklahoma: Energy for the Taking, 12/18/2011) that the United States cannot have a viable foreign policy in the Middle East until we become energy independent of that region.
The Awkward Pose recently surpassed 20,000 readers. Thank you to all my regular followers. I doubt Thomas Friedman is one of them, or that he got this ideas about energy independence from me, and it doesn’t matter. It is still gratifying to know that things I am concerned about, and write about, enter the public conversation at the level that Thomas Friedman writes. That is the way that change happens in today’s world. People like me toss ideas out there, people like you read them, conversations start, discussions ensue, ideas evolve, and consensus builds. The democracy of the Internet is less straightforward than a dictatorship, less orderly than a bureaucracy. It’s messy and exciting, which is how sharing a planet with seven billion people ought to be.
You do yourself an injustice, Paul, in settling for the company of Thomas Friedman. Methinks you had Winston Churchill in mind in your spot-on remarks about the “democracy of the internet:” “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947). Intolerably (my word) “messy and exciting,” perhaps, but yes, that’s our internet!
Thanks for your comment. I had forgotten that terrific quote from Churchill. I often remember his other insightful perspective on Americans: “You can always depend on Americans to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.”
Congratulations on this milestone in your blog! (I forgot to mention this) Your posts are always not just interesting but articulate and insightful in many varied ways. Let’s hope you enjoy writing them as much as we do in reading/absorbing them!