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The Antidote to This Year’s Election Season: Martin Buber

Politics By
Martin Buber (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images)
Martin Buber (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images)


Political columnist David Brooks has written that Martin Buber is the perfect antidote for the current election season, and RealClearLife believes he is right.

Buber (1878-1965) is the famed Austrian-born moral philosopher and theologian. He is best known for his book I and Thou, which champions the idea of treating other people with full spiritual respect (an “I-Thou” relationship) rather than as objects to exploit (an “I-it” relationship). In a best case, “I-Thou” may be what Donald Trump hopes to do as he interacts with unemployed factory workers or laid-off coal miners. It may be what Hillary Clinton hopes to do with the diverse communities she seeks to represent.

Along with I and Thou, Buber wrote other highly influential works, including a very short but wise 54-page work called The Way of Man. In this book, Buber returned to the folk tales and metaphors of Eastern European 18th-century Judaism (the original version of Hasidism). His message was that—ignoring whether or not heaven exists—the purpose of a man’s life is “to let God in … here where one stands,” each person in his own individual way. He calls on each person to joyfully “hallow” every part of their day-to-day interaction with the world around them.

Order The Way of Man, and read some of Buber’s best folk tales and metaphors by clicking here. Read David Brooks’ application of Buber’s philosophy to this year’s election by clicking here.

For more of RealClearLife’s “Best of 2016,” click here.