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.