When the chips are down, and the transistors are shrinking, and the deadline hour is nigh, Thomas Friedman—a professional—can whip up a newspaper column faster than you can say “It is a shame that you are not writing for Highlights for Kids, sir.”
If you go to The Guardian’s website these days you can find a section that is just labeled “Protest.” So now, with your morning coffee, you can get your news, weather, sports — and protests. I found stories there headlined, “Five Fresh Ideas for the Street Art Agitator in 2016,” “Muslim Woman Ejected From Donald Trump Rally After Silent Protest” and, appropriately, “We Are Living in an Age of Protest.”
We sure are.
To be clear, Thomas Friedman, possessor of one of the most coveted jobs in journalism, just fired up the ol’ Powerbook and navigated here to a website “tab” and used that, in total, for his lede. And a powerful one it is. For now, we are all wondering: does Thomas Friedman still have the skills to “pivot” from this topic into a rote recitation of the exact same vaguely computer-related things with which he lards each and every one of his columns, like an old lunch lady rotely scooping gravy onto anything that lands in front of her, no matter how inappropriate?
In my view, this age of protest is driven, in part, by the fact that the three largest forces on the planet — globalization, Moore’s law and Mother Nature — are all in acceleration, creating an engine of disruption that is stressing strong countries and middle classes and blowing up weak ones, while superempowering individuals and transforming the nature of work, leadership and government all at once.
Yes he can.
And how best to gain insight into this world dominated by “protest?” Thomas Friedman knows well that the answer to this question—as to any question—is “interview some CEO.” And he dutifully does just that. The remainder of the column consists of quotes from Tom’s interview with the “C.E.O. of LRN, which advises companies all over the world on leadership.” Because when you think “a world wracked by political protest,” you think, within seconds afterward, “I wonder if a CEO specializing in ‘leadership’ could give me his ‘take’ on this? Or no?”
Thomas Friedman’s personal bank account would blow you away.