Sunday, December 31, 2017

On Shame, Honour, and Vulnerability

I was forwarded this 47 minute podcast with Brené Brown on 1A, and some of the ideas she has are remarkably similar to Timothy Snyder's views in On Tyranny (e.g. connect with others in real life, speak truth to bullshit), so I bought her newest book, Braving the Wilderness. I was sorrily disappointed. She has done a bit of useful research, but it's written in such a self-helpy way that makes it all seem so dubious: anecdotes from childhood, some forced acronyms, lots of repetition of ideas, a slightly bigger font than most books, the sort of thing that feels questionable but likeable. She's very popular. She's a TED Talker, which can also boost popularity but detract from credibility in equal measure (see herehere, and here). Luckily, I found her original research (but just that one journal article), which is a much better starting point.

I'm interested in her findings but also concerned with some ideas left out of her analysis. Granted I haven't read all her books, but I think I get the gist of her ideas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

I finally got to this pocket-sized book, which is full of the kind of lessons that were passed down from my folks and that I've been saying for decades and of some others that I'm hearing over and over in the past year. The behaviours are nothing new, and it is good to be reminded, but it's the background that's missing from my summary: Snyder's (no relation) clear link between pre-holocaust behaviour and now, what helped and what hindered. From a thorough understanding of history, Snyder gleaned twenty tips to help us avoid global catastrophe or at least preserve some semblance of freedom for ourselves in the coming years:
"The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. It would serve us well today to understand why" (11).
I merged them all down to five to better remember them all: