“Most of the time, we are well-served by being logical and deliberate. But on rare occasions, it’s helpful to act with unthinking haste. The operative word here is rare.”
Deeply Human Hate
How and when does conflict metastasize into hatred? Dessa picks apart the science of hostility, with help from a criminologist who identifies the tipping point between prejudice and hate, and an Israeli psychologist who’s studied one of the longest conflicts in the world today.
Get Better at Being Sad
The Midnight Miracle
Why didn’t anyone tell me that Dave Chappelle started a podcast with yasiin bey and Talib Kweli?! Well, I found out on my own and it turned out to be the most perfect podcast I’ve ever heard. The first episode and a few clips are free but there is a subscription fee if you want to hear more—and I’m warning you, you will most definitely want to hear more!
The True Hard Work of Love
Love is something we have to learn and we can make progress with, and that it’s not just an enthusiasm, it’s a skill. And it requires forbearance, generosity, imagination, and a million things besides. The course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times, and the more generous we can be towards that flawed humanity, the better chance we’ll have of doing the true hard work of love.”
— Alain de Botton, “The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships“, On Being with Krista Tippett
Grieving in the Era of the Coronavirus
“I just think that we’re at this incredible time of mourning as a world. We’re all grieving our lives and grieving the lives that we’ve had before and worried about what’s going to happen in the future, and we’re all sort of stuck in a state of suspension. And some of the grief therapists that I talk to, the counselors, they say when you lose someone you love deeply, you want the world to stop. And the world has stopped. We’re all like in this collective place of reflection.”
Civilization Is Relative
“[Franz] Boaz introduced ideas into American life that shape how we think about the world to this day. Race is a construct, culture is relative, Western civilization is not inherently greater. History is not linear, and neither is human progress.”
Choose the Greatest Good
Michael Barbaro: You used the word “prudential.” And that caught me a little bit. Because you’re not using a word that conveys morality or faith. You’re saying “prudent,” if I’m hearing that word correctly.
Marjorie Dannenfelser: Yeah. I think actually religious people use that term quite a lot. Because it acknowledges a hierarchy of goods and evils involved in any decision. That decisions of great consequence often involved a blend of goods and bads.
And your job is to figure out where the highest good is found. Which choice leads to the highest good. And that’s the choice we had to make in that moment.
I had never heard of Marjorie Dannenfelser before this interview and though, obviously, her views are as opposed to mine as possible, I am very interested in her views and strategies in politics.
Democrats, Liberals, and Leftist have been at each other’s throats on social media these past months, or, really, these past years and elections cycles, over what is the best way forward to both keep our principles intact and win.
I’ve found myself torn between the warring factions of supporting perfect candidates only or choosing the lesser of two evils. I do not think either strategy is morally wrong per se, but I can see the possible harm both paths can lead to.
If you support less than perfect candidates and ideas progress move more slowly and you are complacent in the harms that candidate and their ideas inflict as well as the norms you reinforce by sending the signal that those harms are okay.
On the other hand, if you only support perfect candidates and ideas then change may never happen and, worse still, the other side wins again and again and greater harms can be inflicted in the short term on a greater swath of the population. Just look at how many have suffered and how much we have lost in just the last 4 years because the left could not unite behind Hillary Clinton.
The upside is that you can (in theory) claim immunity against those harms and, when the change does come there is a higher chance it will come faster, be of greater benefit, and benefit a greater swath of the population than you would get through any other imperfect candidate.
In listening to the above interview with Marjorie Dannenfelser I am struck by how simple, how easy, the choice is for her. She looks at the choices she has in front of her of her, not the choices she wishes she had, or the choices she may have four years, eight years, or a generation from now, the choices she has right now, and chooses what, in her mind, will lead to the greatest good.
I think this is the most realistic and the most effective way not just to vote, but to engage in politics on all levels.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, I’m sure, does not like Trump personally. I’m sure his actions disgust and outrage her, just like the rest of us. I’m sure she had to hold her nose when she cast her vote for him, but she is seeing her vision realized through this choice because she knows what she stands for and she saw how to get there. She is willing to make a hard choice for those she believes are vulnerable and need protecting.
Shouldn’t we be doing the same?
And what are we doing on this side of the political spectrum? We are floundering. We are in a constant state of reactionary politics and reshuffling our focus and principles. We blame each other. We ask too much of each other. We do the enemy’s work for them, and all this outrage, worrying, preaching and putting one another down for not engaging the way we want in politics as we wish it was played is not leading to the greatest good. It just feels good.
It’s also a privilege. To have the luxury step out of the ring and refuse to play or support anything that doesn’t perfectly align with your views means you know that in doing so your life will hardly change at all. There are a lot of people for whom the last four years have not been all that different from the four years before that, and for them the next four won’t be all that different either.
The Supreme Court granted me the right to marry. The Obama Administration gave me health care, a diagnosis, and affordable treatment for a condition I might have otherwise died from. My life is vastly different than I ever thought it would be because people voted and my life could vastly change again if people don’t.
I know Biden isn’t perfect and increasingly I doubt any politician ever will be. The thing we have to keep in mind is the wide-ranging changes to all levels of government, everyday life, and the country’s consciousness simply by him being elected, and that is the greatest good I have to focus on right now because who knows what turns the future will take and what we’ll be facing or what choices we’ll have in another four years.
This is what we can control.
This is what we can choose.
Institutionalize the Values
FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, well, we didn’t complete the cycle of the message, right? You know, I think more people in our generation raised our kids to be more open-minded and to be more thoughtful and considerate. We had the words for it, right?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.
MICHELLE: When it comes to fathers raising their girls, I do think that the average father today does believe that their girl can be anything she wants to be and they are delivering those messages around the dinner table.
MICHELLE: We delivered those messages at the dinner table, but we didn’t take them to the boardroom. We didn’t change our workplaces; we didn’t change things outside the home.
We didn’t institutionalize the values that we’d been teaching this generation of kids. So now, they are growing up. They are leaving the dinner table and they are going out into the world and going, ‘The world doesn’t look like what I was taught back home.’ You know, and this isn’t right.
BARACK: Young people are idealistic as they have ever been. I think they are more idealistic now than they were when I was growing up. The difference though is that idealism that they feel as if they can channel it outside of governmental structures and outside of politics.
The problem is, again we’re getting a pretty good lesson in this right now, there’s some things we just can’t do by ourselves or even groups of us can do by ourselves. As a general proposition: we can’t build infrastructure by ourselves, we can’t deal with a pandemic by ourselves.
MICHELLE: We can’t effectively educate the public by ourselves, through individual schools…
Thought-provoking and profound discussion between Ezra Klein and sujatha baliga on the basics—and the possibilities!—of criminal justice reform, restorative justice, nonviolence, and forgiveness.