Posted at 8:54 AM on Saturday, January 10, 2009 by David Horowitz
Today, January 10, is my 70th birthday and I'm alive and kicking, and surrounded (virtually as well as literally) by my beautiful wife and loving and wonderful family and friends. I also have my animals -- three dogs and two horses -- a solace in age and models of emotional candor and loyalty, two qualities well known to be generally missing in fellow human beings.
The older a person gets, and the more he knows, the worse things can look. And so it has been over the course of my lifetime. One thing I have learned is that apart from scientific and technological advances people -- taken in the aggregate -- do not learn from their experience or from history's crimes and mistakes. The greatest delusion of mankind is the idea of human progress -- again not counting scientific and technological progress. If slavery were economic, for example, it would still be an institution universally accepted. Of this I have no doubt. We are in the midst of the fourth world conflict in 100 years -- with several hundred million already dead. Yet huge numbers of supposedly progressive individuals and organizations and governments in the West are extending sympathies and support to our enemies -- a fanatical religious cult, intolerant, bigoted, barbarian and genocidal, as though World War II and the Cold War had never taken place.
But I have also learned in a life that until recently would have been considered very long (scientific progress!) that the world is an astoundingly large and complicated place and we see only and always through a glass darkly. A few years ago, Nassim Nicholas Taleb published his remarkable book about the consequences of this fact. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Taleb argues that the events which have the greatest impact on our lives are the ones that no one predicted and no one expects (the book was a present to me from my wise son Ben). On the other hand, in an irony that Taleb would appreciate, his own book does virtually predict the current financial tsunami.
Despite everything I have experienced and all I know I remain an optimist, at least of the heart. And, wouldn't you know it, there's an excellent book which explains why optimists live more productive and happier lives than pessimists. It's called Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman.
Consider these my birthday presents to you. I am very grateful to all of you for giving me the opportunity through your patronage and support to do what I do in the struggle to defend this great country and the values it stands for. And if you would like to give me a birthday present you could do worse than buying for yourself a copy of The End of Time, the wisest and most lyrical book I have written, which has been unfairly punished by my political enemies. Giving his book a wider audience would make any writer happy, including this one.
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