Nice article by Nassim Nicolas Taleb on the front page of the Review section in this weekend’s WSJ. Learning to Love Volatility is reminiscent of the title of Tom Peters’ iconic management book, Thriving on Chaos. Taleb has been talking about randomness, black swans, and anti-fragility for over a decade. His thrust is that the world is unpredictable, sh*t happens, and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
If you live in the Middle East, particular if you’re a resident of Israel or one if its neighboring Arab countries, this may as well be the title of your manifesto. Well, perhaps, not learning to love volatility but at least being resigned to its permanence. Life predictably goes on, for those who don’t fall victim to being in death’s way. The New York Times predictably postures Israel as the bad guy in the latest Middle East Conflict (volatility or hostility a much better descriptor) through op-eds claiming that Israel is not sufficiently dedicated to attaining peace. The current violence was presaged seven weeks ago in an opinion piece in the the Wall Street Journal by a presidential candidate who pointed out the risks of waffling on Israel as our principal ally in the Middle East.
I am not an uncritical supporter of Israel. The country makes mistakes, takes missteps, and its brashness can border on arrogance. As an American, however, I feel secure relying on its citizens to be there for us in times of need. Witness Israel Flying Aid springing into action after Hurricane Sandy. Nor do I fear Israeli terrorists collaborating with Jewish cells in this country to undermine the burgeoning Arab cultural milieu. Even if the President of the United States were in Pharoh-esque fashion to harden his heart toward Israel, I would have trouble envisioning idealistic Israeli youth hatching plots to do something very big to shake up this country in the image of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, or to proclaim “we love death more than you love life“.
Evidently there are those who expect us to believe otherwise. Comment is Free, yet bears watching.