I’m grateful to Jason Mayo, secretary of the Jonathan Club’s venerable Tuesday Breakfast Club, for his summary of my talk this week, entitled “Keeping Calm in Crisis: Survival Tips for a Hyperpolitical Year.”

Pictured here is the club’s historian, song leader, and former general chair, Nat Read, who helped plan L.A.’s light rail system.

“World traveler and Chair of the Day, Eric Edmunds, introduced Bishop John Taylor, who imparted his wisdom on maintaining a sense of calm while navigating crises and countering societal polarization. Taylor pointed out how calmness enhances life quality and performance, contrasting it with the anxiety stemming from matters beyond our control, where opinions differ and friendships may fray, such as with the hyper-political polarization in the upcoming elections and conflicts throughout the world. Taylor encouraged a shift from futile political arguments to genuine curiosity about differing perspectives, fostering compassion and understanding. He drew inspiration from the 12-step program (to worry only about the things one can control) and urged individuals to seek common ground and engage with empathy to bring loved ones and neighbors closer together.

“The biggest cause of anxiety, Taylor said, is fear, and to overcome this the bishop drew on personal anecdotes, highlighting individuals who exemplified extraordinary calm in dire situations – while on their deathbeds: Charlie Munger’s clarity, a nun’s faith, and Larry Siegel’s curiosity and empathy. He emphasized Munger’s approach of seeking understanding over ideological bias, advocating for a deeper comprehension of complex issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Find a measure of calm, go a little deeper to understand, he counseled. ‘Peace comes from knowing there’s always something more to know.’ He encouraged turning to faith in what you love, as it can be a reliable source of calm and contentment and it helps in our capacity to make the right choices for ourselves and others. When dealing with one with differing, even noxious viewpoints, Taylor described Siegel’s curiosity and advised to ‘ask why “they” feel so strongly- ask because you really want to know.’

“Through these lessons, Taylor’s hope is that we do more than ‘survive’ this year; that we bring a little more peace, love and understanding into the world, we foster a more united society, and we strengthen our democracy as a result. ‘Protecting and building up our great American experiment,’ as he said, echoing echoed Abraham Lincoln’s vision of America as the ‘last great hope of Earth.’”