Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond explains why some nations make it through epic crises and why others fail.
- "A country is not going to resolve a national crisis unless it acknowledges that it's in a crisis," says Jared Diamond. "If you don't, you're going to get nowhere. Many Americans still don't recognize today that the United States is descending into a crisis."
- The U.S. tends to focus on "bad countries" like China, Canada and Mexico as the root of its problems, however Diamond points out the missing piece: Americans are generating their own problems.
- The crisis the U.S. is experiencing is not cause for despair. The U.S. has survived many tragedies, such as the War of Independence and the Great Depression – history is proof that the U.S. can get through this current crisis too.
There's more than one kind of wall that we can build. Building the right kind of wall might even be good for the U.S.
- In times of crisis, we often 'build a wall' that separates the part of our lives that feels out of control from the parts that are more in control.
- This is healthy and can help us maintain perspective.
- Nations, too, build walls during times of crisis. But those walls can't be designed to isolate ourselves from others; rather, they need to delineate what is working and what isn't.
The lack of it can also be a problem.
- Nationalism isn't always a bad thing. When a country doesn't have self-confidence, and a collective sense of identity, that is also a problem.
- The optimal situation, in the case of nationalism, is that a nation's citizens have a healthy amount of it. For instance, as Jared Diamond points out in this video, Finland seems to have a nationalism based in reality — and largely founded on their unique language. It imbues them with an innate pride but doesn't compel them to conquer the world.
- Also, nationalism that is used to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, can help a nation transcend its darkest moments.
Are we witnessing the end of democracy in America?
- Much like in marriage, you also have to have political compromise in a country.
- During the last few decades, American elected representatives and our electorates succeeded in reaching compromise about difficult issues. However, political compromise seems to be breaking down today.
- This breakdown, Diamond posits, is the "most serious" problem the United States faces because it could preciptate the rise of a dictatorship in the country.