Worries for the new year

Technically, they’re not 2015-specific worries, or even solely worries so much as some ideas. But it’s 2015 now, and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately:

I have so many feelings about the article on Aleppo’s Civil Defense Force. Tragedy brings out the good and true in some people. I’ve seen it happen. Not everyone – it turns plenty of us (I include myself there) mean and selfish. But some people turn into something like saints. This article about Aleppo’s Civil Defense Force reminded me, vividly of that truth. I wonder, though – what happens to these boys if they do survive the war? Syria is burning in part because there isn’t enough meaningful work for young people.

And, of course, the wreck that is Aleppo. The bazaar in Aleppo – long gone now – was one of the most beautiful, magical places I’ve ever been. I am reminded also of the old story about Damascus. When the prophet Mohammad arrived at the gates of Damascus, he hesitated to cross, as you should only enter paradise once. Side note: I was very pleased to see that medium uses fact checkers.

I think development needs to take the changing ideas of family, masculinity, and femininity seriously. We tend to ignore the squishy stuff – just disregard the the emotional impacts of the changes brought by development, and they matter. These two articles both touch on the idea – Modernity and Matrifocality, and The Rise of the Non-Working Man.  See also the foreman in this NASA article, devastated that his grand project was for nothing. He got paid well to do this. His regret is that his work won’t be used.

I read an article years and years ago that suggested we look at terrorism as a kind of horrible performance art. That it was no longer a strategy or tactic used as a means to an end. Instead, it’s simply and solely about the splashy act and its impact on observers. This view struck me as profoundly, intuitively true. It’s an awful way to look at terrorism, because it gives us no clear idea of how to stop it. But it at least stops us from expensive, painful efforts that only harm ourselves. It seems to me this perspective on terrorism is getting more mainstream, as evidenced by this recent article in The Atlantic.