The Core Challenge of Our Age
Former CIA analyst Martin Gurri has been thinking a lot about the confusions of these days. On vacation I'm reading his Kindle book The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium. It's hard to summarize his big idea, but let me try.
The public now has access to information that was formerly the monopoly of the elite (more or less government, business, and the media). Thus the public (a) is now able to question the decisions and communications of elites based on information, which (b) has led to an increasing willingness to criticize the elite, which in turn (c) has undermined trust in the authority of elites.
Gurri believes trusted authority (which must, by necessity, be an elite minority in his view) is necessary for a healthy society. One of the duties of the elite is to tell the story of what holds a society together, as did Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, for example: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. …"
Gurri argues that there is a global crisis of authority, and a new elite has to emerge, one that can be trusted. An article-length summary of his book's argument is found here, which he concludes by writing:
As members of the public, we are not helpless. We retain the power to select and un-select, and we wield that power constantly—not only in our votes and political donations, but in the books we read, the television we watch, the performances we attend, the products we purchase. We can replace a failed elite class with another that is worthier of our aspirations. Fundamental change is possible, and can come peacefully and quickly. That's the good news.
The great question is where and how to find a "select minority" that embodies honesty in life and work and draws the public, by force of example, toward that virtue.
The Courage to Integrate
As major league baseball enters the second half of the season, a baseball link is in order. This piece on the faith of Jackie Robinson was featured on CT's website a couple of weeks ago. Like the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the efforts of Branch Rickey and the courage of Jackie Robinson in integrating major league baseball were grounded in their shared Christian faith.
Attack Drones in Suburbia
Right now, I'm holding a drone that can fly thousands of feet in air in less than 30 seconds, getting it to an altitude where no one could see it. My drone could be up in the air, ready to strike a target before you even had time to blink.
A range extender I've added to the antenna allows me to control it up to seven miles away. Or I can click a button to activate a tracking device, ordering my drone to follow a vehicle or person, filming every movement in 4K high-definition video. If it ever loses its radio link to the controller, it can automatically return to its launch location. Except—this drone is not meant to come back. It is not meant to take nice photos of my vacation. It is meant to strike. A small mechanism allows it to carry and drop a 2.5-pound payload—potentially grenades, bombs, even poison.
It is written by "a former soldier in the U.S. Army with previous access to some of the most sophisticated and sensitive drone technology in our government's arsenal" who now sells drones to the public. He's not worried about the typical consumer but the outlier. I frankly am out of my knowledge zone on this, but his argument was persuasive to me.
Video Humor Shorts
On a lighter note, check out this humor video on "The Millennial Missionaries." If you like this piece, google "John Crist" on YouTube and treat yourself to his other short videos. My favorites include the two-part series on church shopping, part 1 and part 2, "Every Football Coach Ever," and "Every Golf Interview Ever."
Grace and peace,
Friday, July 21, 2017
The Courage to Integrate