My thoughts on this book are scattered to say the least, maybe because I thought the book lacked focus. I will attempt to make my thoughts understandable here. At first I thought the author was a bit presumptuous in the title, going on a play, in my opinion, of Stephen Covey's paradigm shift phrase. But that is beside the point.
As a book I found it to fail, because by the end the only way I was really able to distinguish which "choices" he wanted us to make was through his repeating them in his concluding chapter. I don't come away from the book knowing exactly what his point is. I understand that he wants us all to step up and do our part, but I think he has a weird way of getting the reader to understand that. He did have some good ideas, and I will comment on the ones I liked, and agreed with.
I agree with his statistics in the beginning that a small group of people can effect great change. That is in the scriptures and is no surprise. To me, at this point in history, seems to be an insurmountable task. My feelings about this can be related back to The Fourth Turning. This time in history is a turning point. We all know that. However, it's a different turning point than in the days of the founding fathers. God was at the helm then. The states had huge disagreements and took a long time coming to conclusions and agreements. I think the only way they actually did end up agreeing was because God had a hand in it. Now, as people are continually turning away from God, God's help is farther from us. Does that mean we shouldn't put forth valiant effort? No. Most definitely not. In fact I believe we should do the opposite, because we have to help the Lord in hopes of preserving the vineyard (don't mind the Jacob 5 reference).
Anyway, on to the 3 choices.
Choice 1: a revolution of Entrepreneurship. I have to admit this was my favorite part of the book and I could not agree with this more. I find it interesting that he uses the term entrepreneurship alone and not a phrase including self-reliance. He does talk about self-reliance and the need for everyone to take care of their own needs. But he uses it as an entrepreneurial mindset, where you innately just take care of yourself.
Having been raised by some of the most entrepreneurial people I have ever seen, and having them encourage all of their children to follow in their footsteps I have strong opinions about this. Society teaches us to go to school, get an education, and get a job which generally implies working for someone else. I used to work for a company and the company went south. I was let go and was at the time the primary benefactor of our family. I had just had Gracie, she was 8 weeks old. I was afraid and didn't know what to do, because naturally as a mother you want to be with your baby. I didn't want to go back to work, but there wasn't any other option. My entrepreneur mother reminded me that I had set out in my education keeping in mind that I would be able to use my degree from home as a mother to bring money in. She asked me what I had to lose, to which I replied, nothing. I decided to give it a go, and found out that what my mother had taught me my whole life was true. You are more successful when you work for yourself. Why? Because you have your best interest in mind. For me I saw immediate benefit. It does all start and end with you, and if you are going to be successful it is up to you, you just have to be willing to take a risk.
I think it would be beneficial if society did go back to a free system where everyone was responsible for themselves. DeMille talks about the socialist beginnings with 401Ks and insurance benefits in the workplace. I agree. It would be good for people to be responsible for their own retirement funds, and their own insurance. He talks about encouraging creativity and thinking skills. I agree. I think the education system has a huge part to play.
I also loved the whole section on producers and how we need to help our families and children become producers. But I have to admit by the time I got to the end of this section I started to feel he was trying to fit too many ideas into one book, and continued to feel that throughout the remainder of the book.
Choice 2: A Rise of the Independents. This part I half agree with and half disagree with. I agree with the idea of having people not associated with a particular party and voting in accord with what they believe in their heart. I also agree with what he's saying about educating yourself about the issues. I don't think you need to be an independent to do that. I also don't think they are the only ones that do. This is where I begin to think he starts over generalizing things. He starts saying it's this vs that which I don't agree with. When you start talking political there is a lot of gray. I also understand that that is the point he's trying to make, that there are a lot of people who don't want to be classified as one or the other, because if you're a republican you must abhor all things democrat. But I also don't agree with being a fence sitter, which is what I think a lot of independents are. They go back and forth, but if they were truly educated then the polls wouldn't flounder so much.
Politics and government will be a hard fix. I think it would take a lot more to fix than to just be an independent voter. Media would need to change, politicians would need to change, funding of politicians would need to change. I understand that he is saying that we need to do our part as voters by becoming educated voters, which is what I will take away from it without getting into how he was trying, in my opinion, to not ruffle feathers with his delivery.
Choice 3: Building and Leading New tribes
There was a lot I like in this section. I have a lot highlighted, maybe because I feel this is one area where what he wrote could be applied and could actually make a difference. The other two choices, I don't feel my personal contribution could change much. But in my "tribes" I feel I could. One thing I liked was where he wrote "It is unfortunate that some people of the purest faith and the most deeply held convictions about peace, charity, freedom, family, etc., seem to have little ability to connect with anyone but those who already share their views… I think this limits their influence for good…" This is a common feeling I've had lately, the need to branch out of my comfort zone and connect with those I may not necessarily share views with. How else would one be able to make a difference in their sphere? This I really did like a lot of this section.
There is a part in the book where he talks about people who are either angry and afraid, or hopeful and helpful. I had a hard time getting through this because I don't feel you can separate people like that. I don't feel I fit into A squared or H squared. I don't think many people are. I also don't like that he states that republicans are only concerned with certain freedoms while democrats are concerned with others. I think most people are concerned with all freedoms, but have different ideas of how to achieve and execute those freedoms. Just because I am conservative doesn't mean that I don't want academic freedom, or freedom of the press, or social justice. My idea of how it should be implemented is just different than liberals.
At the end he stated what he should have stated earlier on. That we need to do our best and improve so that we can be leaders for good. Overall, some good ideas, however, this book seemed somewhat scattered and the flow of it lent to some confusion for me as to where he was trying to lead the reader. But I will take what I liked and try to apply it.