“I’ve noticed something the last few days — something that gives us a human lesson, I think: Those who know the most about the Middle East are saying the least, when it comes to the turmoil in Egypt. Or they are speaking most cautiously. They’re quickest to say, “I really don’t know. I don’t know the exact nature of this, or how it will turn out.” They seem to be humblest, about what can be known, now.
I’m talking about Bernard Lewis, David Pryce-Jones, Amir Taheri, Fouad Ajami — people like that. These are men who have spent years and years in the Middle East, studying its politics, peoples, and languages, taking in everything possible. Those who know less speak in far more confident tones. They are even cocksure. I’m not sure we should trust anyone who speaks in those tones, just now.”
“I remember something David Tell told a group of us. He was a colleague — brilliant — at The Weekly Standard. He had been to the home of some liberal Democrats for dinner. They started pontificating about health care. They didn’t know very much about health care. But they were so sure of what they said. David thought, “I study this minutely, day in and day out. And I’m not sure. How can they be so sure?”
Beware those who seek the “fundamental transformation” of the United States and are absolutely sure they know what they’re talking about. Are absolutely sure of what will follow the fundamental transformation they effect.”
Brian Brown loves building the environments, habits, and networks that make people thrive. He is the founder of Humane Pursuits, where he writes a featured column and edits the Give channel. He started his consulting company, Narrator, to help great mission-driven organizations modernize and grow. He lives with his wife Christina and son Edmund in Colorado Springs, where they mix cocktails, hunt for historic architecture, and see how many people they can squeeze into their house for happy hour.