Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #18)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lesson contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #18:

Lesson #18: Be Calm When the Unthinkable Arrives

“Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.”

Facebooktwitter

Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #17)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lesson contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #17:

Lesson #17: Listen for Dangerous Words

“Be alert to the use of the words extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.”

Facebooktwitter

Reading Out Loud

I recently completed the final revisions to my latest book, A Thousand Ways Home. As I was nearing the finish line, I read the entire manuscript out loud. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into, whether I’m writing a blog post, a short story, or a novel.

Reading the manuscript out loud might be my favorite part of the writing process. It allows me to hear the words I’ve chosen and feel the rhythm of the sentences. It isn’t until I speak and hear the words–not just see them–that I know my work is done.

Reading aloud obviously isn’t just for writers. As parents, most of us read to our children when they were young. Reading to kids isn’t just a form of entertainment. When doing it interactively, it can increase a child’s comprehension skills, build trust, and enhance social and emotional skills. According to research conducted by the Brookings Institution, children tend to smile and laugh more when being read to by a parent than they do when listening to an audiobook.

In the days before radio and TV and computers, people routinely read out loud to one another. Sadly, that habit has been lost. I say “sadly” because there were tangible benefits to reading aloud.

According to Alexandra Moe, writing in The Atlantic, reading aloud “can boost the reader’s mood and ability to recall. It can lower parents’ stress and increase their warmth and sensitivity toward their children. To reap the full benefits of reading, we should be doing it out loud, all the time, with everyone we know.”

Reading aloud produces other health benefits. as well  According to Moe, “It can prevent cognitive decline, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure. In one study, book readers outlived their nonreading peers by nearly two years.”

I admit, I love audiobooks and I listen to them often. But audiobooks don’t provide the same benefits both readers and listeners receive from reading aloud. Don’t get me wrong. Audiobooks are great. But the most benefits from reading come from reading aloud.

Finally, reading aloud is also good for your relationship. Anecdotal evidence suggests that couples who read to each other feel more connected to one another and tend to be in a better mood, especially when reading to each other right before bed. This type of out loud bedtime reading tends to strengthen relational bonds through a shared experience, and gives couples a common point of interest that tends to spur deeper conversations.

One final benefit that is more difficult to quantify but is no less real is drifting off to sleep to the sound of your significant other’s voice. What could be more romantic?

Facebooktwitter

Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #16)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lesson contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #16:

Lesson #16: Learn From Peers in Other Countries

“Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends in other countries. The present difficulties in the United States are an element of a larger trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.”

Facebooktwitter

Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #15)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lesson contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #15:

Lesson 15: Contribute to Good Causes

“Be active in organizations, political or not, that express your own view of life. Pick a charity or two and set up autopay. Then you will have made a free choice that supports civil society and helps others to do good.”

Facebooktwitter

Yet Another Three Prose Poems by Louis Jenkins

Regret

There’s no use in regret. You can’t change anything.
Your mother died unhappy with the way you turned
out. You and your father were not on speaking terms
when he died, and you left your wife for no good
reason. Well, it’s past. You may as well regret missing
out on the conquest of Mexico. That would have been
just your kind of thing back when you were eighteen:
a bunch of murderous Spaniards, out to destroy a
culture and get rich. On the other hand, the Aztecs
were no great shakes either. It’s hard to know whom
to root for in this situation. The Aztecs thought they
had to sacrifice lots of people to keep the sun coming
up every day. And it worked. The sun rose every day.
But it was backbreaking labor, all that sacrificing.
The priests had to call in the royal family to help,
and their neighbors, the gardener, the cooks…. You
can see how this is going to end. You are going to
have your bloody, beating heart ripped out, but you
are going to have to stand in line, in the hot sun, for
hours, waiting your turn.

Untroubled

One wearies of matters of substance, those weighty matters that one feels should be resolved, the dilemma of life on earth, the existence of extra-terrestrial life, the existence of God. Instead I recommend those moments that, seemingly without reason, stay with you for a lifetime: that red-haired girl on the shore brushing her teeth as we sailed away; the glimpse of a face; a bare shoulder turning in a doorway; moments like music, beauty and truth untroubled by meaning.

Wind in the Trees

You could live on the go like the wind with what seems like a purpose or at least a direction, but no home, reckless, pushy, with an attention deficit disorder, no more than a name, really. People will say, “That guy, you know . . . .” But if you stand still long enough you will be given an identity. You could live like the trees, parochial, rooted and restless, prone to hysteria. You could write letters to the editor. Living in the woods you get a lot of ideas about what God is up to, and what is going on in Washington. You’d have a family. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all close around you until, if you are lucky, they recede, one by one, into the peripheral haze of memory. Finally, some space, a clearing, a place to fall.

Facebooktwitter

Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #14)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lesson contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #14:

Lesson #14: Establish a Private Life

“Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware on a regular basis. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Tyrants seek the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have hooks.”

Facebooktwitter

Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #13)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lesson contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #13:

Lesson #13: Practice Corporeal Politics

“Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.”

Facebooktwitter

Three More Prose Poems by Louis Jenkins

Lucky

All my life I’ve been lucky. Not that I made money,
or had a beautiful house or cars. But lucky to have
had good friends, a wife who loves me, and a good
son. Lucky that war and famine or disease did not
come to my doorstep. Lucky that all the wrong
turns I made, even if they did turn out well, at least
were not complete disasters. I still have some of my
original teeth. All that could change, I know, in the
wink of an eye. And what an eye it is, bright blue
contrasting with her dark skin and black hair. And
oh, what long eyelashes! She turns and with a slight
smile gives me a long slow wink, a wink that says,
“Come on over here, you lucky boy.”

My Ancestral Home

We came to a beautiful little farm. From photos
I’d seen I knew this was the place. The house
and barn were painted in the traditional Falu
red, trimmed with white. It was nearly mid-
summer, the trees and grass, lush green, when
we arrived the family was gathered at a table
on the lawn for coffee and fresh strawberries.
Introductions were made all around, Grandpa
Sven, Lars-Olaf and Marie, Eric and Gudren,
Cousin Inge and her two children… It made me
think of a Carl Larsson painting. But, of course,
it was all modern, the Swedes are very up-to-
date, Lars-Olaf was an engineer for Volvo, and
they all spoke perfect English, except for
Grandpa, and there was a great deal of laughter
over my attempts at Swedish. We stayed for a
long time laughing and talking. It was late in
the day, but the sun was still high. I felt a won-
derful kinship. It seemed to me that I had
known these people all my life, they even
looked like family back in the States. But as it
turned out, we had come to the wrong farm.
Lars-Olaf said, “I think I know your people, they
live about three miles from here. If you like I
could give them a call.” I said that no, it wasn’t
necessary, this was close enough.

The Afterlife

Older people are exiting this life as if it were a movie… “I didn’t get it,”
they are saying.
He says, “It didn’t seem to have any plot.”
“No.” she says, “it seemed like things just kept coming at me. Most of the
time I was confused… and there was way too much sex and violence.”
“Violence anyway,” he says.
“It was not much for character development either; most of the time
people were either shouting or mumbling. Then just when someone started
to make sense and I got interested, they died. Then a whole lot of new
characters came along and I couldn’t tell who was who.”
“The whole thing lacked subtlety.”
“Some of the scenery was nice.”
“Yes.”
They walk on in silence for a while. It is a summer night and they walk
slowly, stopping now and then, as if they had no particular place to go.
They walk past a streetlamp where some insects are hurling themselves at
the light, and then on down the block, fading into the darkness.
She says, “I was never happy with the way I looked.”
“The lighting was bad and I was no good at dialogue,” he says.
“I would have liked to have been a little taller,” she says.

Facebooktwitter

Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #12)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lessons contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #12:

Lesson #12: Make Eye Contact and Small Talk

“This is not just polite. It is part of being a citizen and a responsible member of society. It is also a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social barriers, and understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.”

Facebooktwitter