What does “economic collapse” really look like?

What will the world look like if the global economy collapsed? Glenn invited Jim Rickards, author of The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System onto the show to discuss what a catastrophic collapse and reset might look like and how it almost happened before.

GLENN: There is a fascinating article that just came out the last couple of days called In the Year 2024. It's written by James Rickards. He's the author of the book The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System. And I've asked him to come on by for a few minutes and talk to us about this. Because my kids ask me all the time, Dad, what do you mean? What do you mean money is going to collapse? What do you mean the system is going to shut down for a while? What does that even look like? The way I explain it to them, and I'd like Jim to take this in greater detail and correct me if he thinks I'm wrong. What I mean by that is, an event unlike anything at least this generation and I believe anything like the world has ever seen before.

A catastrophic failure and reset in a way that we don't know what we're doing for a while. We all kind of have to -- kind of figure it out on our own. And most likely, at least for a while, ends in marshal law. And ends in some pretty frightening times. The -- the Great Depression would look like a picnic, quite honestly. And James is here to comment on that. Do you agree with that?

JAMES: I agree. I think we can see it coming. One of the things is -- let me talk about what it's not going to be like. I don't think we'll all be living in caves. Canned goods. It's not the end of the world.

GLENN: Right. We make it through this.

JAMES: We make it through, but it's a different world when we come out the other side. You know, Mussolini's mantra was, everything in the state, nothing outside the state. That was their succinct summary of what fascism was. Well, you get to a world where the government controls all the money. Everything, first of all, is all digital. We all think we have money. How much cash do you have in your pocket? A couple bucks maybe? You get a direct deposit of your pay. You pay with credit cards. You pay with debit cards. You pay online. You wire money. It's all digital.

Well, that means it can all be controlled. That can all be taken over by the government, number one. E-ZPass tollbooths, and we all like the convenience. I like them too. But those are interdiction points where they can use facial recognition software, license plate scanning, et cetera. I know you have a lot of contacts in Silicon Valley. You talk to people out there. They like the driverless car. Driverless car sounds kind of cool. You can read a book or whatever. Well, driverless car is not driverless. It's just being driven by a system. And the system involves GPS and computers. Essential programmers. So if they decide they want to lock the cars and take the car to a local police station, then your car is a prison. It's a portable jail cell. And if they don't like you for political reasons or other reasons -- these are all things that are here.

GLENN: I want to say this, in case you don't know who Jim is. Because this sounds crazy. Doesn't it? It sounds like Blade Runner or Conspiracy Theory. And just a little bit about him. Portfolio manager at the West Shore Group. An adviser to the International Economics and Financial Threats, to the Department of Defense. And the US Intelligence Community.

So you also did -- didn't you do the first -- you were the --

JAMES: Financial war game. Yep.

GLENN: Yeah, you did the first financial war game at the Pentagon. So this is not someone who is like, yeah, I live in my mom's basement. And you also were right there in 1998, front row seat, with the Wall Street bailout of the hedge funds.

JAMES: I was the general counsel, long-term capital management. That was the hedge fund that collapsed in 1998. It was bailed out by Wall Street. Four billion dollars. We put it together in 72 hours. We foamed the runways, Glenn, and brought it in for a soft landing. But I can tell you, I was there. We were hours away from every market in the world closing.

We tried to get that down before Tokyo opened that morning. And we did. Now it's kind of like old news or whatever. But that's how close we came. Of course, we came that close in 2008. So I had a front row seat on that one. I like to say, in America, when you screw up badly enough, the lawyers take over. And I was the lawyer. So I got to do that one. So I've seen this.

GLENN: Okay. So you've seen this firsthand. You look to history to be able to forecast what is coming. You have -- you told me last night on television that you have seen -- the world has seen financial markets close. I wasn't aware of World War I, the stock exchange close for that long.

JAMES: Well, in World War I, the secretary of the treasury, Mcadoo closed the New York Stock Exchange. Well, the Board of Governors closed it, basically on the influence of the treasury for five months from the beginning of August to the beginning of December. Now, here's the reason. At the time, we were still on the gold standard. Remember, the US was neutral. The other combatants wanted gold because they knew they needed it to fight the war. So they started dumping US stocks. It's not that they hated US stocks. But gold stocks, you got cash, you can get the gold. They were shipping the gold to London. Down at South Street Seaport, there were pallets of gold going to Europe.

Well, they closed the New York Stock Exchange to alleviate the selling pressure. They reopened it five months later. But what happened was, people were very creative. They went out on the street, they went out on News Street, which is behind the New York Stock Exchange. They had a street market. But you had to trade your stocks by appointment. Bring your certificates down, all that. But the New York Stock Exchange was closed for five months.

They wanted to suspend -- all the combatants suspended gold redemptions. Interestingly, John Maynard Keynes, who was vilified as an anti-gold guy, he was the loudest, most persuasive voice in favor of England staying on the gold standard. What he said is, look, Germany, Italy, Belgium, all these other guys, they've suspended. If we the UK, the city of London, stay on the gold standard, we'll have good credit. We'll be able to borrow the money. Fight the war. And win the war. And he was right. JPMorgan. Well, Jack Morgan, the son of Pierpont Morgan did a for multibillion-dollar syndicated loan for Europe. So, yeah, there was a lot of blood spilled on the field. But they won it with finance.

GLENN: Okay. So who can win with finance this time? Because we're all in the same boat. What happens? The banks are closed. Because I think there could be anything. Anything can happen. You know, it could be -- Iran closing the Straits of Hormuz and that could just send things spiraling.

JAMES: Sure.

GLENN: And all of a sudden we're just out. This could happen in a three-day, four-day, five-day period where all of a sudden the world has changed. The banks are closed. You don't have access to money. $300 out of the ATM. That's all you can get.

JAMES: Right. Gas and grocery money. That's about it.

GLENN: That can go on for?

JAMES: Weeks, months. Hey, if you have your gas and groceries, what else would you need? That would be the point. They wouldn't steal your money. You just couldn't get it. It's not just stocks. It's money market funds. You wouldn't be able to redeem those. Close the stock exchange. Say, hey, we're not stealing your equity. But we've converted it to private equity.

GLENN: You said they wouldn't steal things. Well, they did in Cypress.

JAMES: It's state power.

GLENN: The state comes in and says, everybody gets a 50 percent haircut. So whatever you have, you lose 50 percent of it. To me, that's theft. This is all going on. The state starts to crock down. Everybody is kind of pinned into their own place. What does it -- what does it look like afterwards?

JAMES: Well, now there are a couple of states to the world. So maybe everybody will just acquiesce. That's actually a lot of history. When things get bad, people just say, hey, don't bother me. I'll go alone with this. But you could see the outbreak of money riots. You could see people in the streets, protesting not social conditions, but financial conditions. Of course, we have a heavy militarized police ready to respond to that with tear gas and flash bang grenades and they're armored up with all this money from the federal government. So they're ready.

GLENN: How much of this makes you feel -- you're like, I don't want to believe this. But it's just the fact. Because it really sounds nuts.

JAMES: Well, when my first book came out, Currency Wars, the Financial Times reviewed it and they said, let's hope he's wrong. You know what I say? I hope I'm wrong. I don't think I am. At least I wouldn't be writing and doing interviews if I thought I was wrong. I'm trying to warn people. People say I'm giving predictions. I don't think of myself as giving predictions. I think of myself as giving warnings. By the way, this doesn't have to happen. I don't think this is like Clockwork Orange, where it's inevitable. But I think it's likely because the things that you need to do to prevent it from happening are actually -- in our politically dysfunctional age, they're unlikely to happen.

GLENN: Like?

JAMES: You can break up the big banks.

GLENN: Not going to happen.

JAMES: Right. It won't happen. There are a set of things you can do. By the way, we're in a depression. This is not a recovery. This is a depression. As Kings defined it, he said, a prolonged period of below-trend growth, which neither collapses nor gets back to trend. That's the period we're in right now. Could be heading for a collapse for other reasons.

GLENN: That's the actual definition of depression?

JAMES: By John Maynard Keynes. And I agree with that definition. People say I say we're in a depression. People go, you're nuts. GDP is not going down. We've been recovering for six years. Where are the soup lines? Well, the soup lines are Whole Foods. Because now you get food stamps on a digital card. By the way, I'm not disparaging people. You can go into Whole Foods and get your soups. So we have the soup lines. They're just at Whole Foods. We all know the only reason why unemployment is not higher is because labor participations collapsed.

The point is, this 2 percent growth that we're chugging along. In some quarters, a little more. In some quarters, a little bit less. If we're capable of three and a half, which we are, and in the short-run, maybe 5 percent, which we saw between '83 and '86, if we're capable of that and you're actually growing at two, it's the gap between the three and two. Or the five and the two that's depressed growth. That's the definition of a depression. The problem is, we are Japan. We'll be in this for 20 years, unless we make structural changes. A depression is structural. It's not cyclical. You can't solve a cyclical problem with a cyclical solution, which is money. Money printing, if you know, inflation is a little high and you want to dial down the money supply. Or unemployment is high, dial it up. That's a cyclical solution. We need structural solutions. We're not getting them.

GLENN: You told me off TV yesterday. You said to me that behind closed doors, people who know know. And they say it. They know what's coming.

JAMES: Yeah.

GLENN: And they also admit to you, they don't have any idea what they're doing.

JAMES: That's exactly right. I had dinner with one of the members of the board of governors of the federal reserve system. Very bright individual. Don't need to give out names. I looked at this individual. I said, well, you know, the fed is insolvent. On a mark to market basis. Meaning, if you took your assets to mark them to market, it would wipe out their capital. They have about 60 billion in capital and 4 trillion of assets. So the individual said, no, we're not.

And she said, no one has done the math. And I said, well, I have done it. And I think others have done it too. And I kind of looked at her, and she knew that I knew that she couldn't fool me. So she goes, well, maybe. And then in the next breath she said, well, we are, but it doesn't matter. So she went from no to maybe to yes in a matter of 30 seconds. But her last point was the most interesting one. She said, well, maybe we are insolvent on a mark to market basis, but it doesn't matter. The central banks don't need capital.

Really? Well, that might be news to most of the American people. Your money. The money in your pocket is a liability of the Federal Reserve system. It's their liability.

GLENN: Right.

JAMES: And their insolvency of a perpetual -- I look at a dollar bill. I learned in law school, read the contract. It says, Federal Reserve note. A note is a liability. So what is a dollar bill, really? It's a liability. It's a perpetual non-interest bearing liability of an insolvent bank. That's what your money is. So if we all think it's money, it can actually be money. It's a question of confidence. But confidence is very fragile. It can be lost very quickly. And that's the problem. When that confidence is lost, what do we do? What's plan B? I think the main plan B is the one we've been talking about. Which is, lock everything down. In '98, the solution was to print money. In 2008, the solution was to print money. When you get to the point where you can't print money anymore, just don't let people have their money. Just lock it down.

GLENN: I have two minutes. Can you tell me what the average person should be doing right now?

JAMES: One thing they should have is some physical gold. Don't go overboard. I recommend 10 percent. Don't sell everything. I don't think it's good advice.

GLENN: It can be taken.

JAMES: It can be taken. Well, you make a good point, Glenn. Nothing is risk-free. There's nothing out there that is risk-free.

GLENN: And you don't have any idea what's coming.

JAMES: Correct. So the question is, how much risk? And are the risks correlated? You know, can you prepare for different things? That's the right way to do it. One of the things I like about gold is it's physical. It's not digital. People go, I have money. I say, really, interesting, where is your money? Well, it's in the stock market. It's in the bank. Well, that's all digital. It's in a computer. You may get a statement, but that's all digital. Putin has a 6,000 member cyber brigade. You don't think they could shut down the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow? They can.

GLENN: So when you say have cash on hand, do you believe have actual access to cash in your house or someplace?

JAMES: Well, let's say you did. Try getting it. Try going down to the bank and getting $5,000 of cash without being looked at like a drug dealer. They will. They'll file a suspicious activity report. They'll file a currency transaction report. The SAR, the CTR. And you're a perfectly honest citizen. You just say, you know what, for precautionary reasons, I'd like some notes. I don't want it all in digital form. You'll be treated like a criminal, even though you're a perfectly honest citizen. So that's easier said than done.

But for listeners, they might try it. Physical gold, I like it. It's not digital. You can't hack it. You can't erase it. In 2010, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security found a Russian attack virus in the NASDAQ stock market operating system. This was not a criminal gang trying to get your Social Security number. This was Russia military intelligence inside NASDAQ. That was reported by William Bloomberg. Again, everything I'm saying, you can document or I can document. None of it is conspiracy stuff.

GLENN: James Rickards. The name of the book is the Death of Money. Best-selling author of Currency Wars: The coming Collapse of the International Monetary System. If you want to understand what's coming, you want to be a leader in the next phase of what's coming. You need to understand. This is a great way to understand it. The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System. Jim, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

JAMES: Thank you.

My fellow supporters,

It is with a heavy heart that I must make a sad announcement today. The time has come to press pause on the dream of Beto for president. It's not the end of the Beto dream. It's just pressing pause for a while, like pausing a Foss CD. The dream will keep right on spinning, until we return to it and press play again. I mean, look at Bernie Sanders. That guy's almost twice my age and he's still running for president. That means you can look forward to Beto running for office for decades to come. I have found there is tremendous joy and freedom in running for office and never winning. All the travel, Vanity Fair cover stories, food and free beer, with none of the hassle or responsibility of having an actual job in elected office (or any job at all). It's really great.

With the exception of myself, no one has supported Beto more faithfully and true than you, the fans. I'd also like to thank my wife Amy for continually raising our children so that I can travel this great land in my never-ending quest to find myself (and also to connect with you, the fans). From attending my very hip and not-at-all contrived jogging town halls, to slapping those trendy Beto bumper stickers on your hybrid-SUVs, to steadying tables all over America so I could jump on top of them and yell and jab the air, to clicking "like" on all those Facebook videos of my dentist visits – you perpetuated this Beto dream way longer than it had any right to be perpetuated.

So, I'm sure you're now wondering – what's next for Beto?

Other than pursuing my career as a solo rock recording artist, I believe the best way I can serve America and bring true justice to this great land of ours is by stealing from the rich and giving to those who fall in the sweet spot on the intersectionality charts. Except I won't steal from my billionaire father-in-law, only because getting my family cut out of the will would not be in America's best interest. You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I. Plus, as you know by now, from following the 2020 presidential campaign so closely, the only acceptable status quo in America is leaving the wealth of Progressive elites alone. Everyone else's wealth is fair game, including the middle class. It's the right thing to do.

You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I.

Therefore, from this day forward I will henceforth be known as Beto Hood. You will be able to join the cause by purchasing official Beto Hood merch soon at Beto Hood dot com. Together, with my band of merry men, who will be known as "merry non-binaries", we will roam the land, righting all the wrongs and bringing about all the social justice that Donald Trump refuses to let you have.

Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will live on the road. And in the woods (in eco-friendly, fully sustainable treehouse yurts). And in the shadows. We will skateboard and learn archery and rappelling. We will become proficient in hand-to-hand combat. We will become experts in all weaponry except guns, since guns are the evilest weapons. We will care for all the animals of the forest. You already know my affinity for squirrels. Not only will we continue to rescue all the orphan squirrels, we will train them in petty thievery and nimble sabotage. We will affix tiny helmets on them, fitted with tiny Go Pro cameras to live stream their heroic exploits on Facebook. Side note: my colonoscopy next week will also be live streamed on Facebook and available to rent on iTunes.

Using the skills I honed as a college graduate scaling the gates of UTEP, Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will scale the gates of America's richest and steal from their grotesque wealth. Jewelry, high-end electronics, precious antiques, art, women's shoes – nothing of value will be off-limits. Drawing on my experience while my father was a county judge, we will live above the law. It will be dangerous work, the Lord's work as some people say. But totally worth the risk.

Also, we will not wait for Constitutional amendments nor judicial overreach to get rid of America's AR-15s. We will steal those too. One by one. Using very large versions of those stretchy sticky hands that come in cereal boxes, we will literally be able to snatch these vile guns right out from under the noses of the monsters who own them. Then, with our literal mountain of confiscated AR-15s, we will melt them down and use the metal to build a flotilla of sturdy watercraft, called Beto Boats (trademark pending). Families will be able to use these Beto Boats to save themselves and others when the rising waters of climate change overtake our cities in exactly ten years.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero. So, don't cry for me, America. Beto will be just fine. Dropping out of this race is nothing that another months-long, head-clearing road trip won't cure. And after that, I'll start shopping for some tights.



[NOTE: The preceding Memo was a parody written by MRA writer Nathan Nipper – not Beto O'Rourke.]

Ryan: Making of an Ant Queen

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The embattled, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo wrote that "Life is priceless even to an ant."

An ant colony can only survive for a few months after the death of its queen. On average, queens live 10 to 15 years. Some, up to 30 years, one of the longest insect lifespans, hidden deep within the colony, protected, unable to use her wings because she's a little bigger than she used to be.

Plus she's very busy.

The majority of ants are female. Wingless, sterile worker ants. They build nests, they forage, they hunt.

Theirs is a far briefer life than the queen's, ranging from a few weeks up to a year. But they see more of the outside world than any other ant.

The bigger they are, the farther they travel. And they release pheromones along the way so that they have a trail home.
Drones — winged male ants whose primary function in life is to mate with the queen — die after mating and rarely make it out of the colony.

Then, there are the soldier ants. They protect the colony and attack.

To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell, "Ants and savages put strangers to death."

They go on raids.

The attacking colony rarely loses, so most colonies flee as soon as an invasion begins. But they sometimes remain and fight.
Ants on both sides of the battle die in droves.

Henry David Thoreau describes an ant battle in Walden: "On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely."

If the attackers succeed in overtaking a colony, they pillage the eggs. Some are eaten, fed to larvae. But others become victims of slave raiding. Meaning that the victors return home with their enemy's unborn, feed them, nurse them. Then, when the eggs hatch, the victors force them into slavery.

Often, the slaves even develop an allegiance to the colony which ransacked their home and enslaved them. They'll even help raid other colonies and either die pointlessly or help with the seizure of the next generation of slaves.

Sometimes, however, the slave ants rebel.

In the words of Persian poet Saadi, "Ants, fighting together, will vanquish the lion."

Flying ants, both male and female, leave the colony to form another colony. Once they find a suitable place, the males's wings fall off and they mate to their death. Then one or more of the females becomes queen.

*

It felt odd, any time I sat with a roomful of media, a few hundred journalists from all over the world, as they simultaneously, silently, decided "Yep, that's newsworthy. We should hammer that."

It wasn't like everyone turned to each other and said, "Let's agree on the narrative."

It was an energy.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Like in Houston, at the third Democratic Debate, after Biden misused the word "record player," you could hear chatter spread through the room, people muttering the words "records" and "record player."

In Houston, the media watched the debate from a gymnasium around the corner from the auditorium. So I could contrast the crowd's reactions with the media's reactions.

Nearly every time, there was a disparity between the two. The media were more relaxed — during the debate at least. The audience enjoyed any mentions of identity issues. There were a lot. But the media barely reacted at all.

This was a good thing, probably.

*

It's impressive to see how politicians force their stump speeches into a new form, depending on the context. How they say it like an epiphany.

That night brought the opposite for the ever-fledgling Kamala Harris. I could not believe it. Was this the same woman who'd made Iowa hers, just a little over a month ago?

All night, she was so loyal to the tactic she'd premeditated that she didn't realize it wasn't working, like she kept putting on a puppet show on some busy sidewalk.

At one point, she declared, proudly, "We're not talking about Donald Trump enough."

The most talked-about man in the world, perhaps in our country's history.

In five weeks, she became an entirely different candidate. Her latest version resembled a Xanax-fueled stepmom. It was like she was transforming into Joe Biden.

She kept laughing at her own jokes. And the entire media room cringed every time.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Amy Klobuchar's pre-formed jokes and half-zany dad jokes fell short every time, too. Most of the media saw Klobuchar's long rants as a chance to chat with a neighbor or jet off to the nearest bathroom, which was likely a locker-room full of plastic flight containers and padded camera cases and journalists who curse like sailors.

During the debate, the press was stoic. So if a candidate got a reaction from them, it carried a certain authenticity.

They laughed at things that the audience ignored or disliked or didn't notice. In part because the audience didn't do a whole lot of laughing. But the media laughed like professionals laugh. In-jokey and staid yet ready for anything unexpected.

They loved it when Booker said the thing about "Let me translate that to Spanish … 'No'." And Yang's opening handclaps. As well as Pete Buttigieg's reaction to Yang's raffle.

The biggest laugh of the night in the media center, surprisingly, was when Yang said, "I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors."

*

Early scientists believed that ants adhere to a complicated hierarchy, which biologist E O Wilson compared to the Hindu caste system. The idea was, ants and humans have a lot in common, and ants belong to a society divided by class and determined by labor.

In the Wealth of Nations, father of capitalism Adam Smith wrote: "It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Ants have been organized into colonized societies since the Cretaceous Period, 140 million years ago, when dinosaurs still dominated the Earth. All of that changed 74 million years later. Which was about 66 million years ago. When a comet slammed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in the KT mass extinction.

80 percent of all plants and animals died. The ash and dust and debris polluted the air, blocked the sunlight, transforming the Earth into a dark, frozen wasteland full of asthma.

Insects, carrion-eaters, and omnivores all survived. Any purely carnivorous animals starved to death, while mammals and birds fed on insects and worms until the earth repopulated itself with more animals that could be eaten.

The K-T Mass Extinction ushered in a new era of life. Species that had lived in constant retreat from predators were suddenly able to form more elaborate purposes.

After these lifeforms thrived for tens of millions of years, certain mammals started to become vaguely humanlike.
Early humans popped up about 300,000 years ago.

Meaning, ants have existed for 140 million years, which is 139.7 million years longer than humans.

For reference, if you counted to 300,000, it would take you roughly three-in-a-half days. To get to 140 million would take about four-and-a-half years.

Humans only began developing language about 100,000 years ago.

Yet we're the ones with libraries and governments and ABBA and iPhones. What did ants have? Other people's sugar?

*

Before the debate, I wandered out of the gymnasium and onto bustling sidewalks with makeshift security fencing on each side. And hopped over the massive yellow tubes that belonged in E.T. and pumped cold air into the building. Past dozens of police and security, through an elaborate weave of temporary checkpoints and wires bigger than a fire hose.

On the street, I passed a group of six-or-so teenagers flipping DELANEY signs around like those cardboard "WE BUY GOLD" banners which actual people bob around while dressed as Elvis or Lady Liberty or a Banana.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The sun cast a delightful orange over Houston, glitter in the humid air.

Those kids were having a blast with those signs. Laughing so hard they had to stop occasionally and slap their legs.

On the other side of the fence, some of the most powerful people in the world were readying for battle, and these kids could not have cared less.

*

The protestors had gathered just outside the gates of the campus entrance.

Far as I could tell, it was me and no other journalists present. The rest of the media were in the gymnasium, preparing for the debate or networking or already on-air. Once they got into the media center they stayed put. For many reasons, I assume.
The air collapsed under a wave of heat unique to Houston.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Gnarled blockades served as borders on both sides of the street. Locked into steel fencing, flanked by rows of police cars with their lights on but their sirens off.

Worse than the humidity, and more intense, was the energy bouncing out of the protestors on Cleburne Street. The opposite of suction energy, shoving out with tension and panic and elation.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" blared from a Bluetooth speaker. I envisioned a slow zoom from above, beginning with the top of my head and rising, up and up and up. Drawing in the greater scene. Up past Trump's message-board plane. A panorama of city, then county, then state, capturing the topography and nuance of each snapshot of nature.

The higher the camera rose, the more I resembled an ant. One more wingless worker or obedient soldier rushing from place to place on a mission.

And when you got far enough above, you saw the colony that each of us belongs to.

Then it shrank like a passing bobsled, and Earth itself resembled an ant.

The scale of it is daunting.

For thousands of years the sky has filled humans with romance and humility and wonder. A restive impulse that strikes when we gaze up at the moon, the stars, the galaxy, the quiet.

But at ground level, I was a man in the throes of a great human drama. And my job was to document it as neutrally as possible.

The 120-odd protestors on the south side of the street spilled onto the sidewalk and into a lawn, and they chanted as the Trump plane groaned overhead.

They were crowded together, and they were all fighting for different causes. Lots of contradictions under the same banner.
Next to a group of Beto supporters with pro-choice t-shirts, several women chanted

We.
Want.
A pro-life.
Dem.

Chaos itself occupied the south side of the street. The protestors weren't sure how to handle it. So they chanted and sang and probed for the problem. Like so many tiny creatures hauling an orange slice.

Across the street, facing that horde of supporters, two men gripped pro-life signs.

They were the counter-protestors. Their barricade was far wider than needed. The grass around them looked sad, like the trail a dog makes along the fence when it wants to escape.

Behind the two counter-protestors, a mini-bus covered with photos of aborted babies, tangled fetuses, severed and indistinguishable chunks.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Photo by Kevin Ryan

I squinted and gasped and felt downright unwell.

Two days earlier, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with our first child.

At the very moment I stared at images of tiny human shapes contorted and grey, our baby was the size of a pea.
A few weeks later, we'd see its heartbeat pulsing like a strobe.

I'm not making a statement on abortion. That's not my job as a journalist.

It's more my admiration for the impeccable depth of life. The timing. How messages and symbols confront us all the time, with unmatchable creativity.

Because there I was, literally in the middle of two opposing factions. Again. In the divide. Tangled into so many dichotomies. Life and death. Freedom and oppression. Order and chaos. Activity and stagnation. Creation and loss. Art and nature.

And I had once again remained in the middle.

This brought me tremendous satisfaction. It signified personal and journalistic success.

It was also a bit ridiculous.

As a reporter, I never wanted to pick a side. I already had a side. My side was America, and Ireland. My side was humanity.

My side was life.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak.Not to act is to act."
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The cost of discipleship can be daunting and few people are willing to sacrifice and stand in the face of evil to do what they know God is asking of them. The "Bonhoeffer Angel Award" is awarded to someone with the vision and courage to act when others only talk, to dig in and listen to the whisperings of the spirit when others turn a deaf ear. It is only fitting the inaugural award go to the visionary founder of Mercury One, Glenn Beck.

The award was presented by the Board President of Mercury One, David Barton and CEO of the Nazarene Fund, Tim Ballard. There was a touching video tribute as well including the likes of Penn Jillette, Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Joe Liberman, Congressman Loui Gohmert and Rabbi Daniel Lappin.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

Glenn will be hosting the annual Operation Underground Railroad gala Saturday, November 2nd with keynote speaker Tim Ballard. If you are able to join us, tickets are still available and donations of all sizes are welcome.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!