Reflections from Thomas Friedman’s Latest Book

I picked up Thomas Friedman’s 2016 Thank You for Being Late< /em> a couple of days ago and immediately found myself immersed in some of my favourite topics.

First he talks about writing and writers, and what it takes to be a journalist, a subject of great interest to this writer. What I need to share here is that my first career aspirations were in journalism. I attended Carleton University at 17 in the mid 60s to study Journalism. I was young, unsure and I left after Year One – what was called a Qualifying Year, which I found very uninspiring. Chances are I was meant to be a Nurse first, and I have never regretted that decision, although other careers have drawn me to them, specifically Psychology. Now that I have more free time, I hope to meld some of my interests in writing this blog, and write more often – a resolution for the coming year. Let’s see how I do as 2018 nears its opening.

Back to Friedman, who tells the story of his parking attendant, an immigrant from Ethiopia who is a successful blogger, and now Friedman’s competitor in a rapidly changing world. He talks about the role of journalists in taking a complex subject and breaking it down such that she better understands it, and can then help readers better understand and appreciate it. He relates this subject to politics, voters specifically, and to the 2016 American election of Donald Trump. And he quotes Marie Curie who famously said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less”. To me this is particularly apt at this point in time when so much change is all around us, and happening fast, and many people are struggling to keep up with the pace and the dimensions of the significant changes affecting all aspects of their lives.

Friedman argues that we are at one of the most important inflection points in history, unequalled since the development of the printing press paved the way for the Reformation. One could add here the innovation of the steam engine 400 years later, which ushered in the Industrial Revolution, and a societal move from county side to cities, from agriculture to manufacturing. He describes 3 significant driving forces affecting the planet and the people on it: Technology, Globalization and Climate Change, all accelerating at once and he argues significantly affecting the acceleration of each other.