Thomas Friedman’s newest book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations is full of interesting insights while marrying divergent trends.  The ultimate explainer (as he even labels himself), Friedman presents problems and then explains how they originated, evolved, and pose problems to the world.

For example, the facts on overpopulation are startling, as are the climate change facts.  But I’d never thought about climate change and overpopulation along with big data and cloud computing.  Friedman does.  Because all three trends affect our geopolitical realities, the numbers are worth considering and this part of the book really shines.

I had never considered that education for women was the key to slowing overpopulation.  If women are given opportunities, they are less likely to marry young and/or desire to produce upwards of 10 children.

Friedman acknowledges that most people believe the world has been disrupted and has been altered in fundamental ways.  He offers the analogy of a kayaker—not the advice of “always keep your paddle in the water” since that results in using a paddle as a rudder but instead to “keep paddling.”  We need to keep pressing forward and hoping that we can find solutions to climate change, overpopulation, economic opportunities, etc. by moving ahead.  Too many people around the world have come to realize that life has been altered and want to return to an over-idealized past.

Ulimately, Friedman is offering the “Itaska Project” of his native Minnesota as a pluralistic solution to the issues affecting our world.  People need to commit themselves to being open, kind, and compassionate to our fellow humans and need to work for the common good.

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