You know how Oprah has her “Ah-ha” moments? (Always mention Oprah anytime you want to get peoples' attention, and especially right at the start.)
You know how Oprah has her “Ah-ha” moments? Well, I have “duh!” moments whenever I listen to or read columns by Fareed Zakaria. (Not only did I mention Oprah, I also related myself to her…see how I did that?!)
There are few columnists I read. Tom Friedman is one I frequently find myself agreeing with. He just makes sense. No one knows economics better than Paul Krugman (even though I believe economics is a false science - parse THAT.) But Fareed Zakaria, I mean, wow! Not only do I find myself always agreeing with his logic, I often have “duh” moments where I wonder why no one else has said what Fareed said. (Fareed won’t mind if I use his first name; after all, he’s in my living room every Sunday morning.)
Fareed obviously has a firm grasp on world affairs as evidenced not only in his intelligent thoughts about the world, but also based upon how often his prophecies have come true.
Over a year ago, in June 2014, Fareed wrote about the Middle East, and Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan in particular. He said that the region would continue to fracture because “Sunni, Shiite, Kurd (and other) sectarian groups, often Islamist, have filled the power vacuum. He argued the problem is one of identity, not idealism (read “religious”). People will fight for an identity (American, for example), not ideals. The Civil War, for example, was fought not on a zeal to adhere to biblical teachings (although the bible was used as a weapon to justify slavery), the North and South waged war because the two groups saw themselves as different people who could not come together in thought. This plays right into Fareed’s principle that people in Iraq will not fight for Islam, but for who they are as a people.
Only a year ago, you say? Fair enough.
In December 1997, Fareed wrote that although many countries across the globe are holding ostensibly democratic free elections, the resulting power structures are looking more like dictatorships. And that, indeed, is what we have seen in the last two decades. “Today the two strands of liberal democracy, interwoven in the Western political fabric, are coming apart in the rest of the world. Democracy is flourishing; constitutional liberalism is not”, he wrote. Duh!
In January 2010 Fareed also wrote, “Iraq needs a stable power-sharing deal that keeps all three groups (Shias, Sunnis, Kurds) invested in the new country.” He argued that if that did not happen, the country could be doomed to failure.
It seems no one else had this thought because just this past week (May 31, 2015), Fareed declared Iraq a failed country and proposed what might need to happen, next. Duh!
Although the majority of Fareed’s thoughts are on world political affairs, he also has an eye on the U.S., technology (which he sees as an important ally of world peace), and periodically writes a thought piece, such as his recent column that wonders how the world might be different if a certain asteroid had struck in, say, New York City instead in the frozen wasteland of Siberia.
Okay, enough touting Fareed Zakaria’s insights and thought-provoking, uh, thoughts. I just wonder why more people are not as thoughtful. Why is Fareed Zakaria, Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman, and others like them the only ones out there making sense?
If we had politicians who actually engaged in thoughtful consideration (okay, now, stop laughing!), I might more often be saying “Duh!”, instead of, “Doh!”
Where are our thinking leaders? Where are any of our leaders? We are so hungry and starved for competent leadership that anyone who can make a good speech immediately makes us salivate for their election to office. Anyone who comes along with a decent new idea garners a huge following.
But their ideas often peter out; their leadership exposed for what it is: hunger for more power (or money…or both). Are there exceptions? Of course there are. But I’m not going to talk specifics; I’m speaking in generalities, here.
So what do we do? How can we return to a government of thinking leaders?
I believe it is up to us. To have thinking leaders we must become thinking people. We must stop poo-pooing science (unless that science is about poo-poo). We must improve our educational system so we churn out thinking graduates. We should teach our children to think for themselves and not simply repeat what they hear at home. (I would say “at the dinner table”, but does that even exist anymore?) We must get our information from varied information outlets, and not sit back and watch only Fox News or MSNBC. We must listen to differing opinions. We must welcome challenges to what we know and what we believe. We should attend meetings and rallies of organizations with views that challenge our own. We have to take the money out of politics – somehow. (No, I don’t know how, I only know it has to happen.)
We have to stop watching the Kardashians.
Okay, stop sweating…we don’t have to stop watching the Kardashians. But we have to know that it is not real life and that what happens on that “reality” TV show doesn’t matter to any of our lives; we should not make decisions based upon what Kim might do. We have to be smarter.
It’s up to us, and only us. We have the power, but we don’t wield it. When we demand better leadership, we’ll get better leadership. Until then the Donald Trumps of the world will continue to make a mockery of our republic.