For all the millions of words which have been written, starting with The Federalist Papers, on the US Constitution, what is perhaps most striking about it from an initial inspection is its brevity.
Democracy in America, Tocqueville’s nineteenth century commentary inspired by his travels in America and written for his primarily French audience in an attempt to salvage that nation’s struggles with revolution and democracy, is one of those classic works that is referenced over and over in everything from newspaper editorials, to historical essays, to modern, scholarly books.
What separates human beings from other animals? What makes us distinct, different, unique, what traits do we alone have who have done things that no other species has on Earth? For that matter, what is different between a person hunting for subsistence and a person settling the Fertile Crescent?
I've seen a lot of commencement addresses for the class of 2020 recently, an outpouring of advice prompted by the lack of a more traditional ceremony because of the coronavirus-related lock-downs. If we're being completely, brutally honest, most of them have similar themes, and say similar things, and convey similar messages, whether they're from a celebrity, a political figure, or a businessman. I generally skim through a few of these as I'm reading the newspaper, but one title, or rather subtitle, caught my eye. It didn't catch my eye for being resonant with me, but rather because it was so completely contrary to any advice I would ever give anyone, if I were in any way qualified to give someone advice. It was talking about the important of letting go of myths of greatness.