At this point we all know we live in various media bubbles. In the US for example, Trump fans only see pro Trump messaging and Trump foes only see anti-Trump news. But I never really stopped to consider that this is only half of our media bubble.

The other half of what reaches us is the worst possible examples of opinions we do not agree with. Gun laws, climate change, freedoms of speech, it doesn’t matter. Wherever we land on them, we only see the worst examples of the opposite opinion. This of course just reinforces our prejudices and solidifies the feeling that clearly I am on the right side of things- just look how crazy the other side is!

The reality is more likely that most of us are somewhere in the middle. I think it would pay to keep that in mind as 2020 really heats up.

Elif Batuman discussing how Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence is just as relevant now as when it was written defines a novel this way-

“The novel is a constantly evolving technology, always finding ways to convey more reality, to articulate more truths, to identify new equivalences. Underlying this project is the optimistic belief that seeing the world more clearly can make individuals more free, and societies more just.”

This is one of the many reasons I think reading outside your era is so beneficial. Other time periods have a lot to say about the era you are living in if you are willing to listen.

Today, I learned that the opposite of a straw man argument is a steel man argument.

Instead of engaging with the weakest point of your opponent’s argument you first summarize and then reinforce their basic point. Then you offer your side.

In other words, it’s building the best form of the other side’s argument and only then debating it. It’s being charitable and patching up the weaknesses in the other side’s position so that he can bring the best counter-argument to your point of view.

Imagine if political candidates employed this technique during televised debates. Say, having Joe Biden carefully summarize and bolster Bernie Sander’s Medicare for All (to Bernie’s satisfaction) and only then presenting the counterpoint. One can dream.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Victor Frankl

Came across this quote while reading an article on Stoicism and mindfulness practice. Two seemingly disparate practices that in fact dovetail nicely.

If you have the time to complain about a situation, you probably have the time to find a solution. It’s a simple, but not easy, shift in how you look at problems.

Take a deep breath. Decide if there is something you can do to make the situation better. If there is, do it. If there’s not, stop complaining, let it go and move on to an area where you can affect change.

In order to create, you have to remove.

Want to create a healthier lifestyle? Probably need to remove excess weight. Want to get smarter, improve your worldview? The first step is removing previous assumptions about how things work so you’re open to new ideas.

Or let’s get more global. We need to get better at communicating with each other in terms of our politics, person to person and nation to nation. In order to do that we need to remove the stereo types we all harbor.

In order to create a better version of myself, I need to remove things to make room.