The only time I got into a discussion with Damon Linker was a rather heated exchange a month or two back about an article he’d written about ISIS. I still think that was a bad article of his (and, since it didn’t make his list of bad pieces from 2014, I gather he still thinks it was a good article), but I was disappointed that it was our only contact since he’s written several articles that I thought were quite good. In fact, I wrote about one of them earlier this month.
In some ways, though, this is his best one: What I got wrong in 2014
I say “in some ways” because what Damon Linker thinks he got wrong is not the same as what I think Damon Linker got wrong. But that’s not that point. The point is that anyone writing an article about their missteps from the prior year is setting a healthy example of the rest of us. It’s a little late in the year for me to do a review of my own 2014 writings, but, in exactly one year, you can expect to read an article about what Nathaniel Givens got wrong in 2015.
In the meantime? Ironically, perhaps, the fact that I’ve got a plan to review my own mistakes makes me less worried about making them. I mean look: trying not to make mistakes is kind of a dumb goal. You can try to be careful. You can try to work hard. You can try to be honest. Those things are in your control. But, once you’ve done those things, whether or not you’re right or wrong is up to luck and fate. By planning on writing a piece about my own mistakes, I’m reminding myself that it’s just another one of those things that I can write about and analyze, not some deeply personal assessment of my value as a human being.1 So yeah: pressure’s off. Time to go to work for 2015.