Our Desperate Need for Manners
Our firm's professional fervor is for the law and for our clients. In the United States our laws, along with the power to enact, enforce, and interpret them, are derived from our federal constitution and the constitutions of the several states. While we weren't the first society to employ a constitution, ours is certainly unique. It's not perfect, as nothing made or written by humans can be perfect, but I believe our founders crafted a document that has sustained our country for generations, and it is capable of sustaining it for many generations to come, if we stick with it. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, our passion is for the law and our clients; however, over the years, I have become passionate about another subject: geopolitics.
When I was on active duty in the military, geopolitics were widely considered by my peers to be only of concern to the field grade and general officers. We had a job to do, and thinking about the big strategic picture was not part it. I did find one or two buddies who were as interested in historical context and the long view as I was. Not surprisingly, they have gone on to achieve much as I believe that they had incredible focus on whatever they put their hands on. Notwithstanding the lack of interest from the majority of my colleagues back then, it's not hard to see how geopolitics can affect members of the military in a very direct way. What I've come to learn, however, is that geopolitics affect almost every aspect of our lives, whether it be in business, government, justice, or just everyday societal interaction. The laws that we follow are nothing more than the recorded social contracts that we abide by (for the most part), and geopolitics has a substantial place in each of them. There is also another type of social contract that seems to have been breached by many (including myself from time to time) in the past few decades. The contract that I refer to is that of manners and the social responsibility inherent with them.
In the age of social media, our society seems to have no time or room for manners. We have misleading headlines to react to, and fellow citizens to scorch with a quick, condescending, (and many times poorly researched) response. These days it seems that everyone feels the need to voice their opinions, and to express why someone else is wrong without even taking the time to listen to the other person, at the very least. The effect that we experience is that nobody seeks common ground, and everyone digs in harder to their position (or sometimes what they are told to think is their position). Here, I think Aesop's fable of "The Wind and the Sun" is instructive. Bias has found a way to run rampant in recent years making it incredibly difficult to determine who is telling the truth or not, and to discern which sources are actually credible. It is this absence of manners that has, in many ways, eroded our credibility away.
This problem has become widespread in every corner of our society it seems. The legal world is no different. Zealous advocacy has come to be known as an unfortunate cover for the dispensing of manners in many situations, and it is a statement of the obvious to say that manners are missing in most political discourse. I chose to go down this rabbit hole today in order to bring your attention to a much needed article, written by George Friedman, a political scientist whom I've come to respect very much. Mr. Friedman founded an influential think tank called Stratfor and another called GPF. He has also written several geopolitical books that have accurately forecasted many developments over the years.
I believe some of the keys to his success, and indeed the success of others in every field, are manners, restraint, and his relentless hunt for objective analysis (as impossible as that may be). All of this leads me to share with you the link to an article that article recently written by him, which I believe can be instructive to all of us entitled Manners and Political Life. I hope that you can take the time to read it (even after this unnecessarily long introduction), and take away a couple things that may speak to you, as I did.
There is hope for our society. We just have to look in the mirror to find it. In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I wish you and your family the best today!