Good morning, fellow Citizen.
Welcome to the seventh issue of No Easy Answers, a curated newsletter for curious Citizens seeking signal in a world of noise.
Let's dig into the most delightful stories I've found this past week.
Redefining Tribes, with Jay Shapiro [The New Liberals Podcast]
First up, an unflinching, mind-expanding conversation about the nature of tribalism, healing racial divides, telling stories that unite disparate groups, and so much more.
This is one of my favorite podcast episodes in recent memory. It resonated even more than the Balaji/Tim Ferriss episode from a few weeks back. It digs into some of the most divisive topics of our time, but never feels emotionally charged or dangerous. It's thoughtful, civil, and deeply nuanced, and I can't help but feel that this is the type of discussion we need more of if we truly value truth and problem solving.
I've had a copy of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism on my shelf for a few months, and it's felt daunting to even get started. The thing is like 700 pages. But then this lovely little essay from Aeon came across my feed, and served as an introduction to some of the book's core themes. And I can tell that when I finally dig into this book, it will be richly rewarding.
Here's my favorite excerpt from the essay.
In loneliness, one is unable to carry on a conversation with oneself, because one’s ability to think is compromised. Ideological thinking turns us away from the world of lived experience, starves the imagination, denies plurality, and destroys the space between men that allows them to relate to one another in meaningful ways. And once ideological thinking has taken root, experience and reality no longer bear upon thinking. Instead, experience conforms to ideology in thinking. Which is why when Arendt talks about loneliness, she is not just talking about the affective experience of loneliness: she is talking about a way of thinking. Loneliness arises when thought is divorced from reality, when the common world has been replaced by the tyranny of coercive logical demands.
Also, after reading this, I'm starting to see the recent, utterly insane drama at Basecamp through a new lens. I can't help but think this incident isn't really about pervasive white supremacy in the tech industry. It's about a culture plagued by decades of atomization and loneliness, despite its great material wealth. And it's about a racially-extreme ideology that's swept in to fill the emotional void, destroyed any sense of shared reality we once had, and has left a trail of tyrannical binary thinking in its wake, one that many individuals and institutions are struggling to break from.
I don't recall how I stumbled into Charles Eisenstein's corner of the internet, but I'm so happy I did. After poking around for a few hours, I can already tell this dude is on another wavelength when it comes to deep thinking about systemic global problems, and how we can evolve to solve them.
Anyhow, this essay in particular is about reconciling the tension between our hungry ego, and our desire to serve others and heal the world. Here's a tasty excerpt.
I began to understand that our concepts of big impact versus small impact are part of what needs to be healed. Our culture validates and celebrates those who are out there with big platforms speaking to millions of people, while ignoring those who do humble, quiet work, taking care of just one sick person, one child, or one small place on this earth.
When I meet one of these people, I know that their impact doesn’t depend on their kind action going viral on the internet and reaching millions of people. Even if no one ever knows and no one ever thanks them for taking in that old woman with dementia and sacrificing a normal life to care for her, that choice sends ripples outward through the fabric of causality. On a five hundred or five thousand year timescale, the impact is no smaller than anything a President does.
As a creator, marketer, and entrepreneur, it's hard to shake the feeling that I have to "go big" for my work to matter and make a difference. And as a Citizen, it's hard to ignore the cultural story that the most impactful thing to strive for is running for office.
But none of those "go big" approaches speak to me. They don't represent how I want to show up in the world, or live my life. And it was nice to read an essay like this that reframed some of those cultural expectations, and put my mind at ease.
Don't get me wrong. The world needs some people going big. But more than that, it needs a hell of a lot more people serving in quiet, humble, tiny ways. That's how we create a groundswell of Citizenship.
P.S. I'm also about 50 pages into his book Sacred Economics, and I can already tell this thing is going to shake up my economic paradigm and relationship with money. Fingers crossed. 🤞
Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!