Looking For Omens

As regular readers of this blog know, my daily posts tend to focus on the multiple problems/challenges Americans face today, especially–but not exclusively– the mounting deficiencies of our governing institutions.

Although I almost never “weigh in” on the conversations conducted by those who comment here, I am well aware (and really, quite flattered) that there are a number of very bright, knowledgable people among those who post those comments.( I also know that I have some equally thoughtful readers who rarely or never comment.)

This is a request to all of you–“lurkers” and commenters alike.

I am looking for evidence of a coming “paradigm shift”–signs that America’s culture is on the cusp of significant change for the better. Those signs, those omens, are there–even if they are less prominent, less noted, than a casual reading of the daily news might suggest. Think, for example, of the explosion in civic engagement in the wake of Trump’s election. Think of the sea change in attitudes about the LGBTQ community. Think about the growing numbers of women refusing to remain personally or politically submissive.

Think about what survey research tells us about the attitudes of the younger generation. I often say that I would turn the country over to my students in a heartbeat–they are inclusive, they care about their communities and they care about fundamental social fairness.

I’m currently working on a book, and I am looking for harbingers of positive change, for signs that we may be about to turn yet another social corner and create a better version of ourselves. If we can take our eyes off the train wreck in Washington, the economic threat posed by automation, the alternate realities facilitated by a constantly morphing and fragmenting media environment– if we can tear ourselves away from obsessing over these and other immediate social and political problems (not to mention the multiple, overwhelming threats posed by climate change) and make ourselves take the long view, I am convinced that there are many signs of human progress.

I want to know what you, my readers, see as promising indicators for the future. What are the data points that should give us some comfort and hope?


Reason–for Hope

After yesterday’s post went up on Facebook, a colleague sent me a link to an absolutely fascinating dialogue between the author of Plato at the Googleplex, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and her husband, Steven Pinker. It was originally a Ted Talk, and it has been rendered as a very clever cartoon.

I rarely watch videos that are longer than a few minutes, and this one is 15 minutes, but it is a brilliant defense of reason–something we in this unreasonable age need rather badly–and the role reason has played in civilizing and improving human society.

Watch it!