Them: why we hate each other – and how to heal


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing American Adult, an intimate and urgent assessment of the existential crisis facing our nation.

Something is wrong. We all know it.

American life expectancy is declining for a third straight year. Birth rates are dropping. Nearly half of us think the other political party isn’t just wrong; they’re evil. We’re the richest country in history, but we’ve never been more pessimistic. What’s causing the despair?

In Them, bestselling author and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our crisis isn’t really about politics. It’s that we’re so lonely we can’t see straight—and it bubbles out as anger.

Local communities are collapsing. Across the nation, little leagues are disappearing, Rotary clubs are dwindling, and in all likelihood, we don’t know the neighbour two doors down. Work isn’t what we’d hoped: less certainty, few lifelong coworkers, shallow purpose. Stable families and enduring friendships—life’s fundamental pillars—are in statistical free-fall.

As traditional tribes of place evaporate, we rally against common enemies so we can feel part of on a team. No institutions command widespread public trust, enabling foreign intelligence agencies to use technology to pick the scabs on our toxic divisions. We’re in danger of half of us believing different facts than the other half, and the digital revolution throws gas on the fire.

There’s a path forward—but reversing our decline requires something radical: a rediscovery of real places and real human-to-human relationships. Even as technology nudges us to become rootless, Sasse shows how only a recovery of rootedness can heal our lonely souls.

America wants you to be happy, but more urgently, America needs you to love your neighbour. Fixing what’s wrong with the country depends on you rebuilding right where you’re planted.

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I listened to this audiobook on the recommendation of a social media influencer I follow, Angie Braniff from This Gathered Nest. Although Sasse is an American Senator writing from an American point of view, I found it very interesting and his arguments are easily applicable to most other countries, including here in Canada.

Sasse self-describes as the second or third most conservative Republican in the Senate. There are limited points that I agree with Republicans on so it was particularly interesting for me to read a book by someone from whom my political ideology differs so greatly.

I was surprised though, by how much we did agree on points in Them. Sasse has authored books in the past and his experience is on display. His points were eloquent, factual and well-written. His use of quotes helped to structure and support his arguments, but were not so plentiful as to take over the narrative.

I appreciated his takes on community, technology and economic environment, and the relationships these factors have with social policy and politics.

I find it disheartening to witness so much vitriol and divisiveness on every online platform, as well as in interpersonal dialogue. His argument that the collapse of positive community structures has led to the development of anti-tribes is easily understood and something I wholeheartedly believe is true.

I highly recommend Them to anyone interested in politics, building stronger communities, or just wondering what the hell happened.

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Tampon Tax

I tend to write a whole slew of posts in a few days, and then don’t write again for a week or two, so there might be a whole bunch in the next couple of days. I’ve had lots to write about lately, but have been too lazy to sit down and spell it all out, so I’m going to try to be a little more dedicated and diligent from now on for a couple  of days. Let’s stick to promises I can actually keep, hmm? 🙂

I live in Ontario, but my eyes were glued to the computer screen when the results came in that NDP swept the Alberta election and the Wildrose Party came in as official opposition. I’m thinking that Harper might not be so confident of a re-election in October now.

And while I’m on the NDP… I’m combining two short posts into one.

Looking a little closer to home, I just read about this NDP initiative at the federal level to try to eliminate sales taxes on feminine hygiene products. I only found out last year that tampons and pads were even taxed, and I was annoyed at the realization. Essential daily items are not supposed to be taxed in Canada, and these are certainly essential items for most women for most of their lives. Even more so, considering that some of the ‘essential’ items we currently do not pay tax on include wedding cakes and cocktail cherries, I am even more indignant at the issue.

I firmly support the removal of GST on tampons, etc and plan on writing a few letters explaining my position to the appropriate officials. If you are a Canadian, you might consider the same. I’ve posted a copy of my letter here, so you can email or snail-mail it to your local representatives if you are so interested. Just google their names and cross out mine. FYI, no postage is needed on letters to your MP.



Location (of office)

Dear Ms/Mr Blank,

I am writing to you to illustrate my support for the NDP petition to end GST on tampons and other feminine hygiene products. I was surprised and unhappy to learn last year that I pay tax on these items. I am a twenty-five year old woman and certainly feel that they are essential to my life. I certainly could not live my life without them, nor could the vast majority of women between the ages of 12 and 45.

I support the Excise Sales Act. As you undoubtedly know, it states that GST should only be applied to luxury items that are considered non-essential to regular life, such as accessories and chocolate. I do not believe that wedding cakes or cocktail cherries are essential items in life, and yet we do not pay GST on these items and we do on tampons. This isn’t right.

While I understand that many argue the tax on these products is minor, the amount adds up on a monthly basis for nearly half of a woman’s life. In the course of her lifetime, she will have paid a vast sum in tax for these items. Several times in recent years, the issue has been introduced to Parliament and Parliament has failed to act. I was astounded and disappointed at this lack of common sense among Members of Parliament.

I urge you to do the right thing and support private member bill C-282 to eliminate the taxes placed on feminine hygiene products.

With sincere regard,

—            —

Hope someone out there takes the time to copy and send this in an email! I don’t feel my government reflects many of my values or hopes or is responsive to its electorate in many ways. You will see a whole lot more of these posts in the future, open letters I share with others who may feel like-minded, because I want to be more political and ‘take charge’. It’s part of my FHE Mondays right now, though clearly this week it is taking place on Thursday.

If you need a little more encouragement, here are the links to find your MP (federal)

and you can write the Prime Minster from here

for future reference, here is the link to find your MPP’s email address (provincial)


Edit: The Conservative government has supported the removal of GST on these products, effective as of July 1, 2015. Awesome!