Elsewhere

On the New Yorker's website, Paul Elie on Daniel Berrigan:

Berrigan’s own consistency involved rejecting not just violence but also the media influence and the resources that his notoriety might have made available to him. He created no foundation, nonprofit, or N.G.O.; headed no pacifist think tank or Jesuit school of advanced study; gave no TED talk; engaged in no stagey dialogues offering equal time to the military point of view; and never reframed the ideals of nonviolence in any pocket-size manual for personal growth. When he wrote about Catonville in his 1987 autobiography, “To Dwell in Peace,” Berrigan characterized celebrity as something like a purifying fire: “There was shortly to be a spotlight on us: it was thin as a pencil slate, and would pierce us through and through; a testing light that touched on the very soul, and illumined and burned. The light of the adversary, the light of the church, light of the eye of God? Light, perhaps, of self-knowledge: of all these together.”

In New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan on hyper-democracy, tyranny, and Donald Trump:

Could it be that the Donald has emerged from the populist circuses of pro wrestling and New York City tabloids, via reality television and Twitter, to prove not just Plato but also James Madison right, that democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention … and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”? Is he testing democracy’s singular weakness — its susceptibility to the demagogue — by blasting through the firewalls we once had in place to prevent such a person from seizing power? Or am I overreacting?

In the Atlantic, Robert H. Frank on the important role of luck in success—and why we tend to overlook it:

Successful careers, of course, result from many factors, including hard work, talent, and chance. Some of those factors recur often, making them easy to recall. But others happen sporadically and therefore get short shrift when we construct our life stories.

Little wonder that when talented, hardworking people in developed countries strike it rich, they tend to ascribe their success to talent and hard work above all else. Most of them are vividly aware of how hard they’ve worked and how talented they are. They’ve been working hard and solving difficult problems every day for many years! In some abstract sense, they probably do know that they might not have performed as well in some other environment. Yet their day-to-day experience provides few reminders of how fortunate they were not to have been born in, say, war-torn Zimbabwe.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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