How to disagree better

Everyone knows the difference between anger and contempt.

Anger can lead to reconciliation

Twitter is a contempt machine

45 min: Blogosphere Fisking: Attacking others, but expecting them to read and respond.

Martin Luther King used confrontation with the expectation that change was possible.

Competition means trying to win the game. Contempt means trying to shut it down.

We don’t actually have conversations with people who are different.

(53 min)

How the Modern World Made Cowards of Us All

Dana Carvey of “Saturday Night Live” used to do a funny impression of President George H. W. Bush, in which the character would justify his own supposed timidity by muttering “wouldn’t be prudent” to himself about every small risk. The impression neatly captured the contemporary notion of prudence: faintheartedness, caution and a general bias against action.

.. The connotation of prudence as caution, or aversion to risk, is a modern invention. “Prudence” comes from the Latin “prudentia,” meaning sagacity or expertise. The earliest English uses from the 14th century had little to do with fearfulness or habitual reluctance. Rather, it signified righteous decision making that is rooted in acuity and practical wisdom.

.. We have refashioned prudence into an excuse for cowardice, hiding behind the language of virtue to avoid what he calls “the embarrassing situation of having to be brave.” The correct definition, Mr. Pieper argued, is the willingness to do the right thing, even if that involves fear and risk.

.. to be rash is only one breach of true prudence. It is also a breach to be timid.

.. Once you start looking for this imprudently risk-averse behavior, you see it everywhere, particularly among young people.

.. True prudence means eschewing safety and familiarity in favor of entrepreneurial living. It requires clear eyes, a courageous heart and an adventurous spirit.

To Make the World Better, Think Small

Every charity worth its salt knows that people are more likely to give in response to a child who has lost her parents than to the news of thousands of victims of a tragedy. The example above of Syria is a case in point. International philanthropic support increased only after a news photo spread around the world of a small boy dead on the beach ..

.. The 1 > 1 million axiom is more than a fund-raising secret. It is a formula for each of us in an existentialist funk to connect to our deepest values and apply them to a hurting world.

.. There is an old joke that a Marxist is someone who loves humanity in groups of one million or more.

.. Billions have been pulled out of starvation-level poverty because of free trade, my data say.

.. I crave forgiveness and love; I get it by forgiving and loving others.

Those Who Don’t Understand Trump Are Doomed to Repeat Him

Conservatives are deeply split over the rise of Donald J. Trump. Some see it as apocalyptic; others as refreshing. But two pieces of conventional wisdom are largely unchallenged by either side.

First, Mr. Trump’s populist takeover of the Republican Party was shocking and unforeseeable. Second, love Trump or hate him, he has revealed important realities about the electorate, and Republicans must move toward more populist positions on issues such as trade and immigration or be left behind.

Both of these beliefs are mistaken

.. Census Bureau data show that from 2009 through 2014, only about the top fifth of the population saw any income growth while the bottom 80 percent have averaged no income growth at all.

.. German economists look at the effect of financial crises on politics, reviewing 800 elections over 140 years across 20 advanced economies. They found that, after a financial crisis, nationalistic populist parties and politicians, using language that often attributes blame to minorities and foreigners, typically increase their vote share by about 30 percent. There is no such effect after ordinary recessions.

.. Swedish voters rewarded a brand-new “New Democracy” party that focused heavily on law and order issues and proposed stringent restrictions on immigration.

.. With no simple solution for reviving equal opportunity, conventional politicians struggle with increasingly angry voters. Into this gap walk populists who specialize in identifying culprits: rich elites who are ripping you off; immigrants who want your job; free trade that’s killing our nation’s competitiveness. Their proposed solutions usually involve some combination of increased redistribution, protectionism and restrictionism.

.. Trade and immigration are the lightning rods, but these issues are not the real triggers of our political moment. The illegal immigrant population was 8 percent lower in 2014 than in 2007, and our trade deficit was lower in 2015 than before the Great Recession.

.. The real issue is weak, unevenly shared growth. If we addressed this issue, and if people felt their lives improving, the appetite for invective on secondary issues such as trade and immigration would dissipate.

.. Conservatives love to emphasize the need for higher economic growth, but have often missed the importance of more widely distributed growth. Leaders should set their focus on a system with more opportunity in the middle and bottom of the economy.

.. Throwing away free enterprise will neither solve our nation’s problems nor create enduring political victories. Only strong growth, evenly distributed, will do the trick.