In my last piece, I spotlighted an important long-form essay in the Guardian newspaper by Indian writer and public intellectual Pankaj Mishra, opining that “we find ourselves in an age of anger, with authoritarian leaders manipulating the cynicism and discontent of furious majorities.” Mishra’s “age of anger” theme resonates strongly with me, capturing the emotional center of gravity that now appears to be shaping too much of our civic and public lives on a global scale.
Obviously developing solutions to this state of affairs is complicated and multifaceted stuff, surely beyond the reach of a short blog post. I would like to propose, however, that at the very personal level, one of our most affirmative responses can be to nurture the core communities and connections in our lives. In other words, we should identify the clusters of people and activities that mean a lot to us and do our best to support their humanity and purpose.
Whether those communities and connections are grounded in a workplace, civic group, creative endeavor, family grouping, neighborhood, cohort of friends, or even a valued online network, times like these call upon us to do our best to strengthen the most positive bonds in our lives.
This is easy to write out on a keyboard, but it takes sustained intention to carry out in practice. I confess that sometimes I fall well short of meeting my own exhortations. Nevertheless, I find that this challenging era is helping me to clarify what is important, and reinforcing the most meaningful connections in my life is heading toward the top of the list. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this way.