Author: America Is the 'Most Anxious Nation on the Planet' – Why?

Do you struggle with anxiety? You’re far from alone. Americans are more anxious than ever – and author Max Lucado wanted to find out why. Joining Glenn on radio Tuesday to talk about his latest book, Lucado offered a three-part theory as to what is making Americans so anxious:

1) The world is moving far more quickly than it used to as technology advances

2) People have forgotten how to slow down

3) We’re constantly bombarded with negative news from every corner of the globe

“We are now the most anxious nation on the planet, and this is the most anxious generation since anxiety was ever measured,” Lucado explained the inspiration behind his new book, “Anxious for Nothing.” The title is a reference to the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to Christians in the New Testament book of Philippians to “be anxious for nothing.”

American anxiety is translating not only to a breakdown in community and relationships but also to a higher suicide rate.

“We’re losing the ability to have honest conversations with one another because we live in fear,” Lucado said.

The two fundamental questions in life are “why am I here?” and “where am I headed?” People can only live so long without being able to answer those questions until they become “bitter and jaded and cynical,” Lucado said.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Max Lucado, from San Antonio, Texas. He started a small church in Miami, Florida. And now he's in San Antonio. He's been a pastor for 40 years. He's -- he's authored 34 books, 43 different languages. Ninety-seven million copies of his books are in print. He's been married 34 years. Has a granddaughter. Has three wonderful children and a -- a very important message in his new book Anxious For Nothing. Which, Max, I had to have you on, because I think this is the answer to much of what the world is facing right now. We are so anxious about everything. And through, I think, misdirection.

We're blaming it on all kinds of different things and all different people. But it's -- it's really -- this anxiety -- first of all, where do you think it's coming from? What are we experiencing?

MAX: Thanks for letting me on the program, by the way.

GLENN: Sure. Yeah.

MAX: It's not just an assumption on your part. You know, sociologist after sociologist has told us -- and I document a lot of this in the book -- that we are now the most anxious nation on the planet. And this is the most anxious generation since anxiety was ever measured. Third world countries score higher on the anxiety list than the United States does. So how could this be? We have more gimmicks, more gadgets, more toys, more entertainment than ever, and yet we're wrapped tighter than Egyptian mummies. We're just anxious people. And so it's not just an assumption on your part.

And I think the consequence of this -- of course, it's physical. Just about every malady can be faced back in some form to some form of stress. But I think also it has -- we pay a high price emotionally. We're losing the ability to have honest conversations with one another because we live in fear. We're anxious. And when you're anxious, you hunker down and you withdraw. And the result of that can be a breakdown in fellowship, community, and dialogue.

GLENN: So we also withdraw, but then we also gather in groups -- this thing that's going on with, you know, dopamine right now.

MAX: Yeah.

GLENN: We get constant dopamine hits if we post something nasty on Facebook and it starts to go viral. Our brain is rewarding us for that.

MAX: Yeah.

GLENN: With a feel-good drug. And I don't know how that's going to break. Because we're looking -- and, look, we're strung out on opioids or on dopamine hits. And if you're not doing one of those two things, the suicide rate is going through the roof. People are not built to handle this kind of stress.

MAX: The suicide rate between 1999 and today has gone up 24 percent.

GLENN: Wow.

MAX: Twenty-four percent. Now, if we said that about a particular disease, we'd call that an epidemic. More people than ever are orchestrating their own departure, which gives rise to the question: What is happening in our culture to cause that to occur?

GLENN: So what is it?

MAX: I think from a socialist viewpoint, the comment list includes -- we've seen more change in the last 30 years than we've seen in the last 300. So the world is moving far too fast. Number two, we have not -- we have forgotten how to slow down. Our great-grandparents and ancestors would go only as far as the day as the horse or the camel would go. And then when the sun set, they would slow down. We have forgotten how to do that.

GLENN: Yeah. Right.

MAX: And then also, the bombardment of negative news. Not just political news, but just negative news. If something bad happens in Nepal, I hear about it within five seconds. Whereas, our ancestors never would have heard about it. Or if they did, it would have been five weeks later. So we're just bombarded with negative news. So those are the three things that socialists state. Can I add to that as a pastor?

GLENN: Sure.

MAX: I think secularism is taking its toll on us. Secularism is the belief that there's nothing in life beyond what happens between birth and the grave, and there's nothing beyond the world to help us.

Secularism really sucks the hope out of a culture because if there's nothing more than what I can see and touch and feel and I don't like what I can see and touch and feel, then I think I'll just check out.

GLENN: So I want to play something for you that I saw this morning from Jim Carrey. He was giving an interview yesterday in New York, and it was some fancy celebrity thing. And everybody was reporting this as, look at Jim Carrey, he's kind of slapping down Hollywood and the elites and everything else. I don't think that's what's happening. I want you just to listen to what Jim Carrey said in an interview yesterday. Because he is really unhealthy, or he's just starting to figure life out. And I can't decide which it is.

VOICE: Say, Jim Carrey, yes?

JIM: What?

VOICE: I've covered a lot of Fashion Weeks. This is the first time I've run into Jim Carrey.

Wait. Tell me -- is it true you're wandering the streets? You need a date in the party? What's up?

JIM: No, no, no. I'm doing just fine. I -- you know, there's no meaning to any of this. So I wanted to find the most meaningless thing I could come to and join. And -- and here I am. I mean, you got to admit, it's completely meaningless.

VOICE: Well, they say they're celebrating icons inside. Do you believe in icons?

JIM: Celebrating icons, boy, that is just the absolute lowest aiming, you know, possibility that we could come up with. It's like icons. What are -- do you believe in icons?

I don't believe in personalities. I don't believe that you exist. But there is a wonderful fragrance in the air.

VOICE: You don't believe certain icons have the power to make change, to think differently, to be bold, to inspire others, artistry? You're one of them.

JIM: On the good foot, ha!

Yeah. Shut her down now.

Yeah, no.

VOICE: Yeah.

JIM: No, I don't believe in icons. I don't believe in personalities. I believe that peace lies beyond personality, beyond invention and disguise, beyond the red S that you wear on your chest that makes bullets bounce off. I believe that it's deeper than that. I believe we're a field of energy dancing for itself.

And I don't care.

VOICE: But, Jim, you got really dressed up for the occasion. You look good. Was that an accident?

JIM: No, I didn't get dressed up. I didn't get dressed up.

VOICE: Who did?

JIM: There is no me.

VOICE: There's no you. We're not here. This is a dream?

JIM: No, there's just things happening. And there are --

GLENN: Stop. He is -- he's a guy who has been going through trouble lately, a lot of personal trouble. And to me, this is really concerning.

I like the idea that he says all of this is meaningless. But I think he is to a point to where he means really all of this is meaningless. And there's a fine line between that.

MAX: He seems right on the edge of despair.

GLENN: Yes.

MAX: And despair often is borne out of a sense of utter complete disappointment of life. You know, I have been at the top. I've had the very best. I've had all it could give me. And it's still vain. It's vanity.

You know, there's a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes. And King Solomon reached that same conclusion. You know, the richest man probably who ever lived. And he said, it's nothing, but, you know -- there's vanity. It has no meaning to me.

And so this cry for meaning, this longing to be a part of something significant is right at the core of the deepest, deepest need of a human being. Why am I here? Where am I going?

GLENN: So where are we finding that now? Now that our churches are, you know, struggling. I think in some cases for good reason. Where do we find it? How do we put this back?

MAX: I know our churches are struggling. And oftentimes because of the way churches are structured, they can be so inauthentic, that they come across to people as simply another way to earn money or to -- to steal from people.

GLENN: Yeah.

MAX: And so that -- that's created disconnection between many people and the church.

I really think though that we are beginning to sense, especially in the millennial generation, a sense of authentic faith among our young people. And it's very, very encouraging. And it's a faith that's really built upon a deep, deep conviction that there is a good God who is up to something good. They don't have all the answers. Don't have all of the questions resolved. But there's a deep, deep conviction, that we're seeing, a fresh move of faith among our young people.

And I find that very encouraging.

GLENN: There are reasons to feel the chaos. There are reasons -- I mean, there's real things that are happening that people's jobs are at stake. They -- they don't know how they're going to make ends meet. Their kids are in trouble. Suicide rate with the youth is through the roof. There's real reason to feel this way.

How do you disconnect from the very real things in your life? The hype of all the things that you shouldn't worry about, and put that in order and then find a peaceful place in it? You know, how did Martin Luther King -- how was he in jail and fine?

How did Dietrich Bonhoeffer thank his executioner? How do you do that?

MAX: And I asked that very question in this book, because I based this book upon the writings of the Apostle Paul. And he wrote this book in a Roman jail cell. And this book called Philippines in the Bible has come to be known as the epistle of joy, and yet there's 1,001 reasons he should not be happy.

GLENN: Right.

MAX: I mean, the emperor was making a living on killing Christians, and probably Paul was next in line. And here, the Apostle Paul is chained to a Roman guard and has every reason to think he'll never see the light of day again. If it is, it's just for a few moments before his head is chopped off. And yet, you read these four chapters, and there's not one word of complaint. Not one word of complaint.

And as you dig into this book, you find in this book really a deep and abiding trust in two simple facts: that there is a good God, and this good God is up to good things.

And so I think that -- and I'm not saying anything that surprises you. I mean, I'm a pastor. I know I'm supposed to say these things. But deep in my heart, I really believe that the cause of anguish and despair is a sense of meaningless.

GLENN: It is.

MAX: Why am I here? Where am I headed? Why am I here? Where am I headed? And if you cannot answer those two fundamental questions in life, I mean, how do you get up on a Monday and go to work? You can only do it so many times before you become bitter and jaded and cynical.

GLENN: I'd add to that that there's -- there's a deep sense I think in all of us, of I want to do something of meaning.

MAX: Uh-huh.

GLENN: And we can't find it. We can't find that something of meaning.

We're talking to Max Lucado. In a second, I want to talk to him about chaos, which we've just been talking about. But calm. C-A-L-M. Calm the chaos. In a minute.

(music)

STU: The book by Max Lucado is Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.

At some point, I want to ask Max the question my kid asked me the other day with the hurricane bearing down. It was one of those, "Hey, why is God sending the hurricane? Is it to kill people?"

And I thought that was probably -- I didn't want to say yes to that. So I said, "Hey, look, daddy's i Pad is charged. Here you go kid!" That was probably not the response Max will give.

GLENN: Max Lucado, a grew new book everyone should read. It's called Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.

STU: So this really happened the other day. My son is six. And he's watching some of the -- people talking about the hurricane. My mom lives in Georgia. Was threatened by it at one point.

And he asked, "Why does God send hurricanes? Is it to kill people?" So I surely did not answer the question correctly. But what -- I mean, how do you answer something like that to a 6-year-old?

MAX: Yeah. How do you answer when a 6-year-old's father is diagnosed with cancer or when someone's in a car wreck like a family in our congregation was recently? And the man had his first baby on Monday, and he was killed in a car wreck on Saturday.

It's just these -- these kinds of things, you know, they leave our heads spinning.

GLENN: And it's not even 6-year-olds that ask that. There's 60-year-olds. There's 96-year-olds that ask that question.

MAX: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Why do bad things happen to good people, you know? And I think that's where the heart of the conversation is. The real heart is, is there a God? And if he is a God, what kind of God is he? You know, is there a God? Is he in control? And if he's in control, why do bad things happen?

And I think the Bible talks about that over and over -- you know, Jesus said many times, for example, in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I've overcome the world.

The ultimate answer for human suffering, according to the Bible is, it's -- it's not supposed to be this way. It's not supposed to be this way. The world was not created to have hurricanes and tornadoes. Our bodies were not intended to have to deal with cancer cells and heart conditions. My dad died of ALS, you know. And the body -- it's not supposed to be this way.

But there's a good day coming. There's a better day coming. Don't lose hope. Don't give up. I promise I'm going to take what is difficult, tragic, and I'm going to redeem it into something good. And this is what led one Bible writer to say that the promise of the future glory is not worth comparing with the difficulties we have today. In other words, the small potato struggles we have are going to be long forgotten in the next life, in the new life.

I know that requires faith. I know that that's hard for some people to believe.

I've tried not believing it. And I think the idea of not having faith is far more difficult to me than having faith. And so ultimately, the answer is, it's not going to be this way forever.

STU: And I'm going to lay the blame at the feet of Eve. Adam and Eve. Because what you said --

GLENN: I don't --

MAX: Don't give him my email address.

(laughter)

GLENN: Max, I have a great story to share with the audience of -- of, it's how you look at your situation, that we're going to share here in a minute.

And I've run out of time, but I want to come back for one more segment with you. Because I want you to explain C-A-L-M. In a world of chaos, the answer is calm. And we get to that, next.

GLENN: Max Lucado has a new book out called Anxious for Nothing. And as each passing day goes by, I kind of feel like that. I kind of feel like, you know, there are real reasons to be anxious. There's real pressure on right now. The world is changing. But really, how much of that really matters? You know, you either have the faith that it's going to be fine and we're going to make it, or you don't.

And if you don't have the faith, then, you know, it's trouble. You say the answer is calm.

MAX: Yeah. I -- I would even go so far as to say, I think we each have a moral obligation to be peaceful people. You know, we have a moral -- I owe it to you and to you to be as peaceful as I can be. And rather than stir up anxiety everywhere I go, if I can learn to bring peace, like you said earlier, Glenn -- one person is changed, and that person changes a family. That person -- a family changes a community and then a state and then a nation and then the world.

I have a moral obligation to do all I can do to be a peaceful person. Because in the long-term, if enough of us do that, we create a peaceful place. And so that's why I've been so fascinated with this whole theme of anxiety. We're an anxious nation. An anxious nation makes bad decisions. An anxious nation is on edge. An anxious people cannot get along with each other.

Peaceful people, on the other hand have dialogue, have community. Talk through their differences and learn to disagree agreeably. These are characteristics of a peaceful people. So all of that to say, how do you become that? The book in the Bible called Philippines is a book about peace.

And in this book, the apostle says, here's four things you can do: Number one, you celebrate God, the way he says it is. Rejoice in the Lord. Always, again, I say rejoice. He must have been a preacher because he says everything twice. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.

So the next time you feel anxious, just take a minute and rejoice in God. Rejoice in the sunshine. Rejoice in his goodness. Rejoice in what you've got.

And then the apostle says, be anxious for nother. There's the phrase. But in everything by prayer and petition, let your requests be made known to God.

So instead of letting the anxiety settle within you, immediately lift the cause or source of that anxiety to God. Make a prayer out of it. Then the apostle says, do this without Thanksgiving. That is to say, leave it God. Then lastly he says, now meditate on good things.

And he gives us a list of like nine different virtues upon which to meditate. In other words, set your mind on better things.

It's a real practical thing, I think, Glenn, that the apostle who had every reason to be stressed out found peace. And he says, here's how I do it.

GLENN: Max, it is good to talk to you. And you have been an influence on my life. And many, many, many people that I know. And it is --

MAX: Oh, thank you.

GLENN: And it is great to have you here.

MAX: And it's mutual. It's mutual. Every conversation is better than the other.

GLENN: Thank you. God bless 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!