Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal by Ben Sasse

(New York: St. Martin/Macmillan, 2018), 256


  • “If we really want to be happy we must plant roots and attend to them” (14)

Chapter 1 - Our Loneliness Epidemic

  • loneliness kills
  • much depression is caused by loneliness
  • Putnam’s scissors graphs show the divergence of rich from poor in America over the past 50 years
  • “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” - Patrick Moynihan (36)
  • today there are two different America’s: rich (educated) and poor
  • family structure is the most important factor in educational success
  • four drivers of human happiness:
  1. Do you have a family you love?
  2. So you have friends you confide in?
  3. Do you have work that matters?
  4. Do you have a worldview that makes sense of suffering and death?

Chapter 2 - Work

  • discussion of the changing economy of work

Chapter 3 - News

  • confirmation bias in our news consumption
  • discussion of Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn (84)

Chapter 4 - Polarization Business Model

  • online news encourages inflaming the passionate 1% on either side
  • MASH as an example of the advantages of a shared common culture
  • “one hump” (persuade voters in the middle) vs “two hump” (stoke the fires on your side) politics
  • “trade primary sources for a week” only the other side’s news

Chapter 5 - Becoming Americans Again

  • America is an idea—until it ceases to be so. Each generation must take up the responsibility of keeping this republic
  • we need to start with the acknowledgment that we are broken
  • Madison saw our propensity to faction and instead focused on designing systems to temper the consequences
  • Washington’s restraint in relinquishing the continental army to Congress mirroring that of Cincinnatius in Rome
  • ~The Gulag Archipelago referenced 148

Chapter 6 - Set Tech Limits

  • smart phones and social media have the power to weaken families and make us less happy....
  • rootedness in place, community, family is essential for our happiness
  • “We don’t primarily lack technology, we primarily lack wisdom.” (190)
  • I’ve thought before of EMI-proofing a room or part of the house to disable electronics...he proposes this same idea on 190
  • book: 2018-11-17-The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch
  • book: ~2021-11-12-Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
  • stress isn’t having too much to do but having something important to do that we are not making progress on

Chapter 7 - Buy a Cemetery Plot

  • Josh Gibbs speech about stages of life, share with Jordan: “Contentment is a condition of the soul, and it does not come from getting what you want, but in giving thanks to God for what you have been given.” (214-215)
  • “The wise man learns how to grow where he is planted.” (215)

Chapter 8 - Be a Smarter Nomad

  • discussion of the sharing economy as reducing transaction costs on the individual level and increasing supply
  • we need a new neighborliness like what Tocqueville observed


  • Reject anti-identities: recognize that there’s a higher-level bond that unites us
  • Put politics in its proper place (which is below civics and downstream of culture)
    • Lincoln: “If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live though all time, or die by suicide.” (248)
  • We need to live local


  • He gives interesting insight to his writing process, and how in this book since he finds writing do be dreary how he outlined and edited more than usual

Created: 2018-11-10
Updated: 2022-11-17-Thu