God Save America from Fearful Christians

Shrinking in the face of challenges to career and reputation communicates fear, not faith, to a broken world.

Back when I was in the religious liberty litigation business, I’d sometimes give my clients—especially my college student clients—a little talk that went something like this: “Your lawsuit is likely going to get more media attention than anything that your group does for the next 10 years, but that gets the importance of this moment exactly backward. Winning your religious freedom and maintaining your presence on campus is far less important than what you’ll do with that liberty. Your witness will ultimately define you on this campus, not your rights.”

I’ve thought often about those talks in recent years. The reason is simple—Christian liberty is largely secure, yet Christian fear is harming the Christian witness and damaging the culture of the nation we love.

A moment’s historical reflection should demonstrate that few political and legal movements have been more successful in the last 40 years than Christian conservatism. Through a combination of activism and litigation, Christian conservatives have not only achieved veto power over the electoral fortunes of one of America’s two great political parties, they’ve erected a veritable thicket of laws that protect religious expression in public (and even private) spheres.

Court decision after court decision has held that churches and religious organizations enjoy enormous autonomy (greater autonomy than secular organizations) in hiring and firing employees, and that autonomy is nearly absolute when it comes to hiring and firing ministerial employees. They enjoy rights of equal access with secular organizations to public facilities and (in some cases) taxpayer funding. Employees of private companies enjoy broad federal, state, and local protections against religious discrimination. Many of these freedoms aren’t protected by fragile 5-4 Supreme Court majorities. Instead, they rest on precedents decided by 7-2 and even 9-0 margins. 

At the federal level, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act secures religious Americans extraordinary protection against infringements on religious liberty through federal law. A total of 21 states have enacted similar provisions.

Decades of patient pro-life activism (protected by many of the court precedents referred to above) have resulted in hundreds of pro-life laws in states across the nation—including 288 laws passed between 2011 and 2015 alone—and are drivers in the extraordinary drop in the American abortion rate. The abortion rate is now lower than it was before Roe was decided, when abortion was actually illegal in multiple American jurisdictions.

Yes, I know there are challenges. I know that threats to religious conscience exist, especially for Christian institutions that engage in heavily regulated professions like foster care, adoption services, and health care. But it’s hard to think of a single developed country in the entire world that more robustly protects religious freedom than the United States of America.

Yet in spite of this liberty and power, all too many Christians are afraid.  Once again a time of social upheaval is elevating illiberal voices, and those illiberal voices have disproportionate power in America’s leading cultural, educational, and corporate institutions. Right alongside an extraordinarily welcome wave of reflection and anguish about the reality and legacy of American racism is a disturbing wave of intolerance for dissent from the most radical and divisive anti-racist ideologies.

In a searing newsletter published Friday, progressive journalist Matt Taibibi penned a cri de coeur against the illiberal left:

On the other side of the political aisle, among self-described liberals, we’re watching an intellectual revolution. It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.

They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!

Writing in New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan asked “Is there still room for debate?”:

In this manic, Manichean world you’re not even given the space to say nothing. “White Silence = Violence” is a slogan chanted and displayed in every one of these marches. It’s very reminiscent of totalitarian states where you have to compete to broadcast your fealty to the cause. In these past two weeks, if you didn’t put up on Instagram or Facebook some kind of slogan or symbol displaying your wokeness, you were instantly suspect. The cultishness of this can be seen in the way people are actually cutting off contact with their own families if they don’t awaken and see the truth and repeat its formulae. Ibram X. Kendi insists that there is no room in our society for neutrality or reticence. If you are not doing “antiracist work” you are ipso facto a racist. By “antiracist work” he means fully accepting his version of human society and American history, integrating it into your own life, confessing your own racism, and publicly voicing your continued support.

None of this is particularly new. “Woke” culture has spawned years of cancellations, terminations, and boycotts. It has also created a sense of pervasive fear in Christian communities. I’ve heard from friends even in deep-red communities such as Franklin, Tennessee, who are afraid to share their thoughts on social media for fear of corporate reprisal.

Sullivan is correct that intolerance is very real, but he’s wrong that present conditions are “very reminiscent of totalitarian states.” There is a substantial difference between state censorship—enforced at gunpoint—and the professional and social intolerance that dominates illiberal institutions. The East German Stasi would leave your body in a ditch. That’s a different universe of oppression compared to the harms woke America inflicts on its victims today..

Yet excessive fear reigns. My friend Rod Dreher’s influential blog has become a clearing-house for frightened Christian professionals to (anonymously) express their deep fears. Comment after comment will begin with the notation that the authors feels they can’t identify themselves:

“I am a full professor in the humanities at a major private university. Everyone on this blog would likely recognize my name if I published it here.”

“From a reader I know personally, and who correctly says she cannot identify herself: ‘Very few of us have practical freedom of speech anymore. Sure, the constitution lets us say it, but what good is that if it gets us mobbed?’”

I get correspondence like this all the time. And expressions of fear like this aren’t all that new. I’ll never forget the professor who spoke to me in whispers about his faith lest anyone overhear and threaten his tenure bid. I remember an extraordinary case in Georgia where the university Christian community remained largely silent as a fellow believer faced racism, rape threats, and death threats for defending religious freedom on campus.

As a matter of law, Christians are free. As a matter of fact, in many contexts across the country, Christians are afraid—and many of the people who are most in the grips of fear are those individuals who have thoughtful and reasonable things to say.

Rod points out that millions of Americans, repulsed by “wishy-washy” religiosity are seeking purpose in the “strong gods” on the illiberal left and right. It’s riots vs. crackdowns. It’s left-wing intolerance versus right-wing aggression. The reality hearkens back to the lines from W.B. Yeats poem, “The Second Coming,” that I wrote about two weeks ago: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

The fear of the Christian “best” is harming this nation. Millions turned to Donald Trump to fight for them, forgetting that a church that is supposed to be a source of salt and light should not empower malice and lies. The result, in Gen. James Mattis’s words, is “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.” Christians put in power—and sustained in power—precisely the wrong man for this perilous moment.

Others, in spite of Christ’s admonition to deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Him, are not willing to risk tweetings when the apostles braved beatings. Their jobs are too precious to risk. Though they enjoy greater freedom from actual censorship than arguably any people in the history of the planet, self-censorship suffices to drive too many thoughtful Christian voices from the academy, the boardroom, and the office. But shrinking back in the face of challenges to career and reputation communicates fear, not faith, to a broken world. While the fearful Christian would never say this out loud, they’re functionally treating the “strong gods” of the partisan political moment as greater and more powerful than the God of the universe they seek to serve.

How do you respond to those “strong gods”? By showing them to be weak. Speak in the face of fear, but speak in the way that God desires. He has given His people a mission statement: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Each element is transformative. Each element is necessary. Any Christian movement that lacks justice, kindness, and humility is flawed. 

America is at an important crossroads. There is a stirring in the American heart—men and women who were once hardened against the words and testimonies of their black fellow citizens are starting, at last, to listen. But extreme voices seek to hijack the debate, to take advantage of the moment to continue ripping this nation to shreds.

Are Christians prepared to be the instruments of justice, mercy, and humility that this nation so desperately needs? Not if they remain afraid. Not if in their timidity they continue to empower our worst voices or refuse to speak the truth with grace and conviction. Christians have immense liberty in this nation, but our witness ultimately defines us, not our rights, and presently the Christian witness is all too often a witness of fear.

A shameless plug … 

My new book, Divided We Fall, is available for pre-order, and I just got my first review, from Publisher’s Weekly, and it’s good! The reviewer called the book an “incisive examination of contemporary political polarization” and said this “well-informed and often moving account provides an antidote to the ills of political partisanship.” I’m grateful! And I’d also be grateful if you pre-ordered the book, either at the Amazon link above or at Barnes & Noble (which needs your support.)

One last thing … 

This new song, from Kristene DiMarco, has truly touched my heart. I hope it blesses you—in a time of uncertainty and fear, let Jesus rise:

Photograph by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

The Miracle of Kindness (Chris Hedges)

Emir-Stein Center
50.1K subscribers
Evil, even in the darkest moments, is impotent before the miracle of human kindness. This miracle defies prejudices and hatreds. It crosses cultures and religions. It lies at the core of faith. Take a brief journey through the eyes of American, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges to Jerusalem, Gaza, and Iraq, and discover the sacred bonds that make us human.

Subtitles: 🇺🇸The Miracle of Kindness 🇪🇸El milagro de la bondad humana

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Script:
I studied Arabic four hours a day, five days a week, with my Palestinian professor, Omar Othman, in Jerusalem. We met in my house on Mt. Scopus overlooking the old city every morning. He would arrive with his books and something from his garden, olives, peaches, apricots or a bag of pistachios he would patiently unshell as we worked and then push towards me. Yom fil mishmish, we would say as we ate his apricots, literally meaning tomorrow will be good times and we will eat apricots, but given the long tragedy that has befallen the Palestinians, this phrase is converted into a wistful tomorrow will never come.
Omar, a polyglot who spoke German, Hebrew, and English fluently and who had worked as a teacher in the court of King Hussein in Jordan, was determined I would not only learn Arabic, but the politesse and formalities of Palestinian society. He drilled into me what to say when someone offered me food – Yislamu Edek – may God bless your hands, or when a women entered the room — nowar el beit – you light up the house – or when someone brought me a small cup of thick, sugary Arabic coffee — ‘away dime. A phrase that meant, may we always drink coffee together in an occasion like this.
Omar had a fondness for the Lebanese child singer Remi Bandali, a fondness I did not share, but on his insistence, I memorized the lyrics to several of her songs. He told long involved shaggy dog jokes in Arabic and made me commit them to memory, although sometimes the humor was lost on me.

In March of 1991 I was in Basra, Iraq during the Shiite uprising as a reporter for The New York Times. I had entered Kuwait with the Marine Corps and then left them behind to cover the fighting in Basra. I was taken prisoner by the Iraqi Republican Guard, who in the chaos – whole army units had defected to join the rebels – had ripped their distinguishing patches off their uniforms so as not to be identified with the regime of Saddam Hussein. I was studiously polite, because of Omar, with my interrogators. I swiftly struck up conversations with my guards. My facility in Arabic rendered me human. And when I ran out of things to say I told the long, shaggy dog jokes taught to me by Omar. Perhaps it was my accented Arabic, but my guards found these jokes unfailingly amusing.
I spent a week as a prisoner. I slept and ate with Iraqi soldiers, developed friendships with some, including the major who commanded the unit, and there were several moments when, trapped in heavy fighting with the rebels, they shielded and protected me. I would hear them whisper at night about what would happen to me once I was turned over to the secret police or Mukhabarat, something they and I knew was inevitable and dreaded.
That day came. I was flown on a helicopter to Baghdad and handed to the Mukhabarat, whose dead eyes and cold demeanor reminded me of the East German Stasi. There was no bantering now. I was manhandled and pushed forcefully into a room and left there without food or water for 24 hours.
I awoke the next day to plaintive call to prayer, the adhaan, as the first pale light crept over the city.
“God is greater. There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
I went to the window and saw the heavily armed guards in the courtyard below. I did not know if I would live or die.
At dawn the women and often children climb to the flat rooves in Baghdad to bake bread in rounded clay ovens. I was famished. I called out in Arabic to these women. “I am an American journalist. I am a captive. I have not eaten.”
A mother handed fresh bread to her young son who scampered across the rooves to feed me. A few hours later I was turned over to the International Committee for the Red Cross and driven to Jordan and freedom.
Where are they now, these men and women who showed me such compassion, who ignored the role my own country had played in their oppression, to see me as a one of them? How can I replay this solidarity and empathy? How can I live to be like them? I owe Omar, I owe all these people, some of whom I did not know, the miracle of human kindness – and my life.

Tyler Cowen: On Being Conversation Partner that Draws out the Best

76:48
oh just interesting first of all how do
you manage to to have discussions with
both jordan peterson and at the same
time people like automated which are
totally of the different size of the map
and still be a look of the interview or
a discussion that partner by both sides
of the equation with some alienating one
of the sites you know a lot of people in
your position just like enough being
either clone of the right totally
election they can’t have discussions
that’s a very good question I’m not sure
I know the answer I mean my audience
probably has a better sense of that than
I do but you know I’ve had like
published dialogues with Paul Krugman
Jeffrey Sachs Dani Rodrik Larry Summers
there is basically all like the leading
left-leaning
economists and I just asked them like
would you do it and they all said yes
and none of them have been paid yet
either it’s not like oh we had to shell
out you know the box to get Paul Krugman
just asked him I guess I think he
thought he would get a fair treatment
and then when you do a bunch of these if
people feel the others have gotten a
fair treatment they’re willing to do it
too
but I’m genuinely mystified because you
know I never thought any of those people
would say yes so like through some way
in which I’m still miss perceiving the
world people
meet printed in the same newspaper as
some of the other people that you like I
think a lot of them see Jordan Pearson
is a really yeah you know I think I
approach those conversations trying to
learn from those people and not trying
to refute them so I try to refute myself
in a sense and that changes the demeanor
and the tone and I guess it’s working
for attracting the people like sometimes
readers will write to me and they’ll say
Oh Krugman said this Jeff Sachs said
that like how could you just let that
slide they want me to like fight combat
with them on every point but somehow
that’s not what I think it should be
like if their arguments have weaknesses
maybe those weaknesses will come out
more if I’m encouraging and drawing out
the argument rather than in just
refuting it and that’s been like part of
what my podcast series has been about
but again it’s still a mystery to me I
think sometimes just like if you do
things that other people think can’t be
done like they can be done so just do
them that’s a very naive answer but I
don’t think it’s totally off-base either
so we’re all like under investing in
just doing things because I didn’t
approach this with any kind of plan or
strategy whatsoever I just like asked
them and then did it and it’s gone
pretty well and it’s a very popular
podcast and it’s like famous writers
we’ve had in it like Margaret Atwood all
sorts of different people I didn’t think
would be possible Martina Navratilova
the tennis star Kareem abdul-jabbar the
basketball player sorry yeah so for them
it’s like a platform where they can
reach a quality audience so I’m like
giving them access to my audience they
value that and it’s kind of like a
challenge I sometimes say I approach the
podcast I try to make every person look
as smart as possible and
that’s actually a lot more intimidating
than when someone tries to make you look
as stupid as possible because you’re
used to that people trying to refute you
like you always have your comebacks but
80:54
the pressure on you and someone’s trying
80:55
to make you look really smart like
80:57
that’s a real challenge for people and I
81:00
think they somehow respect that or they
81:02
don’t get enough of it elsewhere and
81:04
they’re sort of keen to sign up and take
81:06
on the challenge like if I ask you the
81:08
hardest but sympathetic questions like
81:11
how well will you do and people like
81:13
that anyway I thank you all for coming
81:18
if you have been like any follow-up
81:19
questions ever you can just feel free to
81:21
email me my email is online and I’d like
81:24
to thank my hosts also for having me
81:27
here in Israel it’s been a great
81:28
privilege and I do hope to come back and
81:30
again thank you all for the evening
81:33
[Applause]

How Love Will Defeat Hate | Russell Brand & Deeyah Khan | Under The Skin

Documentary filmmaker Deeyah Khan is determined to confront hate and prejudice by meeting some of the most extremist groups in the world. She has sat down with White Supremicists in the US and interviewed former Jihadists to further understand what drives people to join these groups.
Her film “White Right: Meecomplexting The Enemy” won an Emmy and is available on Netflix. We discuss the role politics, class, feminism and everything in between plays in relation to this issue.

74:08
why do you only care when the
74:11
perpetrator is the other man and
74:14
similarly you see in the Muslim side of
74:16
things as well you’ll see a lot of
74:17
Muslim men who will be saying look at
74:19
white American soldiers who are raping
74:22
our women in Afghanistan who are raping
74:24
our women in Iraq and you sort of go
74:26
when rape happens by a white man you
74:29
suddenly are women’s rights activists
74:32
and suddenly you care I understand so
74:34
it’s sort of like a confirmation bias
74:37
meaning way of validating existing
74:41
prejudice by pointing to truly horriffic
74:45
transgressions and using them to bolster
74:48
a pre-existing ideology of hatred so
74:51
somehow your vile violence is okay
74:54
because the other guy does it too but
74:56
yes all their violence is worth and also
74:59
earth and international level types of
75:01
violence are considered necessary types
75:04
of violence are considered rational
75:06
expedient whereas other types of
75:08
violence that are wacky religious crazy
75:11
hands-on which side of the equation
75:12
you’re on yes do you believe in God yeah
75:16
I believe in love
75:18
hmm yeah so so I use the word love even
75:24
more than I use the word God why because
75:26
to me that’s what it actually means it
75:29
means a kind of a unity of purpose and a
75:31
sort of benevolent oneness yeah how do
75:34
you think that these ideas can be
75:37
popularized and do you think that these
75:39
ideas can be politicized and potent they
75:44
are they already are and and how do you
75:47
popularize it I think the fact that
75:48
somebody like you does this and I think
75:52
that somebody like you I said this to
75:54
you when I walked in as well you know
75:55
you don’t have to do this you can very
75:57
comfortably do whatever it is that you
75:59
do and be you know comfortable deal with
76:03
your own kind of you know spirituality
76:04
and your own practice and and that’s
76:06
fine and your way of accomplishing
76:08
change in the world is just by you
76:09
yourself appearing in the world in in
76:12
the kind of best sort of manifestation
76:15
of yourself as you can and that in
76:17
itself is is changing the world right
76:19
but you’re choosing to go beyond that
76:21
you’re choosing to to speak about issues
76:24
that are difficult to speak about you’re
76:26
choosing to engage with people who are
76:27
difficult to engage with you’re choosing
76:29
to ask questions that are uncomfortable
76:32
and unpleasant but necessary so I think
76:35
how we move the conversation forward is
76:37
everyone doing their version of that if
76:39
they can you know at the same time I
76:41
don’t believe that we should sort of
76:42
pressurize people or make people feel
76:44
guilty or burdened by you know you have
76:47
to do this otherwise we’re all screwed
76:48
you know it’s people contribute in the
76:50
way that they can contribute and if you
76:52
just smile to a person if you don’t
76:56
clutch on to your purse when a young
76:59
Somali boy walks onto the bus and
77:01
instead look at him and actually
77:03
acknowledge him and nod and smile that
77:05
in itself is you’ve changed the dynamic
77:09
in the world a little bit so I think I
77:12
think people underestimate the the
77:15
individual responsibility and the
77:18
individual acts of kindness yeah do you
77:21
not they do well partly out I would say
77:24
that we live in a time that place is so
77:26
much responsibility thanks for those
77:27
lovely things you said about me by the
77:29
way
77:29
that replaces too much responsible
77:32
on the individual that we are told that
77:36
you know that I guess we are given these
77:40
roles in life as consumers we operating
77:44
within quite narrow parameters I think
77:47
what you said about hope is very
77:48
important a lot of people just don’t
77:51
believe that change is possible and when
77:53
I think about why I continue to engage
77:55
in conversation I have a stand what we
77:58
were talking about prior to our recorded
78:00
conversation I have as you clearly do a
78:05
belief in the optimum in in there that
78:09
there is an ulterior reality that’s
78:11
trying to realize itself through the
78:14
purchase nosov human beings that’s
78:16
inviting us to overcome our personal
78:19
darkness and to build systems and
78:22
connections based on the beautiful
78:25
aspects of our nature as opposed to the
78:27
darker aspects of our nature when we are
78:29
culturally encouraged to focus on
78:32
ourselves and our competitiveness and
78:36
our darkness our last and our fear we
78:39
live in a culture that promotes these
78:41
values so you are right in a sense we
78:44
have to discard the way that you did
78:47
when I was asking you about Muslims you
78:49
still really kind of answer I want is
78:51
like or what anywhere a scarf or a job
78:53
all that kind of thing still would have
78:55
liked a bit of a clearer answer about
78:56
that because it’s not necessary that the
79:00
fact that you think that that is
79:01
something that I I should or that that’s
79:04
something that might be an obligation
79:05
you even care about it you care if women
79:08
do it down relevant I mean I run a
79:11
magazine you know where we are
79:13
constantly support I mean it’s set up
79:15
with the purpose of of showing the the
79:18
wide variety of Muslim experiences and
79:21
Muslim women’s experiences that exist in
79:23
the world and in that you know we are
79:25
publishing articles of women who are not
79:27
just you know we’re here jobs but also
79:28
wearing the carbs and you know women who
79:30
write things that I personally disagree
79:32
with but that’s the whole point you have
79:35
to allow people the full expression of
79:37
what it means to be a human being to
79:39
that person and if that means having
79:43
your hair out that means having
79:45
every type of politics it means loving
79:47
whoever that you want to love that means
79:50
all of that doesn’t matter
79:51
our job is to or my job I feel in
79:55
whatever tiny ways that I can is to try
79:57
and support people and facilitate an
79:59
environment where people can flourish
80:02
and be themselves as fully as possible
80:04
regardless of what that means and
80:06
regardless of whether I approve of it or
80:08
not and whether I think it’s right or
80:10
not but I also ask for that same
80:12
courtesy sort of for myself you know
80:15
it’s why I have to qualify myself as a
80:19
Muslim through having to wear a hijab or
80:22
having to look like this or hold this
80:24
belief or that belief is is sort of it’s
80:28
sort of irrelevant it’s it’s it’s I am
80:31
what I am
and similarly there are the it’s complex
people are complicated and we have to
allow for people to be complicated
why
do we have to fit them into these nice
meat boxes just for our own satisfaction
you know these Nazis I had all these
opinions about them very neat little
boxes of you know they’re just this
they’re just that they’re justice and
shouldn’t they just this or and they
don’t people our people have many layers
to them and and to only define them by
their their their visual or their in any
kind of superficial symbols I think is
is reducing somebody’s humanity all the
work that I do is about is actually
about recognizing ourselves in each
other it is to try and locate the
humanity in someone else not so much to
find their humanity but it’s actually in
81:28
an attempt to hold on to my own Wow you
81:31
know and it’s Annie and that’s important
81:33
and and I’ve said this many times and
81:35
people kind of roll their eyes at this
81:36
but you know it’s I refuse as a woman of
81:40
color as a you know the long laundry
81:42
list of you know the things that I
81:43
consider myself to be I know what it
81:45
feels like to be stereotyped I know what
81:47
it feels like to be dehumanized and
81:48
because of because of that I refuse to
81:51
do that to somebody else even if that
81:53
means a Nazi because if I am willing to
81:58
somebody else then there’s no difference
82:02
left mm-hmm and and that’s what I’m kind
82:05
of working against is this kind of
82:07
simplification of people this kind of
82:09
caricature of people for from my
82:13
convenience it’s not supposed to be
82:15
convenient it’s supposed to just be
82:17
messy and wonderful and complicated it’s
82:20
supposed to just be human and that’s the
82:23
battle isn’t it the you know the whole
82:25
challenge the whole thing is about
82:27
recognizing that I can see myself in you
82:32
and vice versa and there’s something in
82:34
that and once we can recognize that it
82:36
becomes harder for me to harm you and to
82:38
hurt you or to exercise violence against
82:41
you and this is why on a bigger level
82:44
why our politicians encourage us to
82:47
dehumanize each other is so that
82:49
violence becomes possible it is so that
82:51
we can strip each other of our rights it
82:54
is so that we can become reduced just to
82:56
a consumer or just to a voter you know
82:59
we’re not just anything we’re not just a
83:02
hijab we’re not just a woman or just you
83:05
know a famous guy who’s trying to do a
83:07
pod car to you than that there’s more to
83:10
me than that there’s more to the Nazis
83:12
than that there’s more to the jihadis
83:14
than that so the more we can get
83:16
underneath all the noise and and the
83:20
kind of static to the real heart to the
83:23
real the heartbeat of it the closer we
83:27
get to solutions and and you know it’s
83:31
we can’t afford we can’t afford to give
83:36
up on each other is how I feel it’s it’s
83:40
it’s we’re all in this together and I
83:45
think if we give up any if we give up on
83:47
each other then we’re also giving up on
83:49
ourselves and I think then we’re handing
83:52
over you speak about power you’re about
83:53
power you’re about power me too if we do
83:57
that then we’re handing over our power
83:59
and I refuse to do that I spoke to I do
84:02
a lot of work with women’s rights
84:04
activists all around the world and in
84:06
particular in in with women from Muslim
84:08
majority countries and again people in
84:11
the West would constantly
84:12
like to cast us as victims and as poor
84:14
pathetic women who are being abused and
84:16
this that and the other but what I have
84:18
found amongst a lot of these women who I
84:21
consider to be my mentors who I
84:23
considered to be my complete inspiration
84:25
is even in the darkest darkest
84:28
environments they’re able to hold on to
84:30
light they’re able to hold on to
84:32
resistance they’re able to smile they’re
84:34
able to love they’re able to laugh and
84:36
they’re able to just do politics times
84:39
10 and I asked one of them Hina Jilani
84:42
is her name and I remember asking her
84:44
you know why why are you hopeful you
84:47
know why why are you such an optimist
84:49
and she said she said because we don’t
84:51
have the luxury of pessimism and I think
84:55
that’s true and to me if women like that
84:58
in circumstances that seem impossible
85:01
and odds that seems completely stacked
85:04
against them are able to hold on to
85:06
their humanity and they’re constantly
85:08
some of the women that I work with are
85:09
working to bring their boys back from
85:13
Isis and from various militias to try
85:16
and and reintegrate them back into life
85:20
and realize that jihad is not about
85:22
spilling blood it’s about giving blood
85:24
at a hospital if women like this exist
85:27
when they’ve got everything against them
85:29
then because I asked you this why do you
85:32
do the things that you do the reason I
85:34
do it is I was lucky enough to be born
85:36
in a in a country like Norway and I’m
85:39
lucky enough to live in a place like the
85:40
UK for all of its faults and all of its
85:42
stuff I could have been born and I could
85:47
have been born a girl in Afghanistan and
85:49
I think with all the privilege that I
85:51
have and all the advantages that I have
85:54
here surely it’s part of my
85:58
responsibility to do something useful
86:00
with that otherwise what good is it if
86:03
it’s just for me if only I get to
86:06
breathe and I get to be free and I get
86:08
to do what I want to do what good is it
86:10
if the woman next to me is bleeding well
86:14
good is it so privileged do you good
86:17
rent is you see as a duty it’s a
86:22
responsibility
86:23
see hmm you have to do something about
86:26
it have you any thoughts about how men
86:31
and women can relate to one another more
86:34
positively in this time that seems to be
86:38
seeing bifurcation and polarity between
86:40
the genders I think my skill energy has
86:44
to be reimagined I think what it means
86:45
to be a man the fact that the
86:48
associations to that has become about
86:50
dominance and violence and power the
86:54
fact that men some men anyway seek their
86:58
sense of self through through those
87:02
things I think we have to reimagine what
87:04
it means to be a man we have to
87:06
reimagine what masculinity means and I
87:08
think we have to liberate men from the
87:11
very very tiny tiny incredibly narrow
87:14
destructive boxes that they get to
87:16
operate within and I think we have to
87:18
make it okay for men to feel things and
87:20
to articulate their feelings and to say
87:25
and this is why I appreciate what you
87:27
again I appreciate what you do because
87:29
again you being in the position that you
87:31
are and you being is open and willing to
87:33
be vulnerable and willing to admit that
87:36
oh my goodness you do have feelings you
87:39
know I think it’s so important for young
87:41
men to see because I think we constantly
87:44
talk about women being at the receiving
87:47
end of toxic masculinity but I think
87:50
toxic masculinity is also killing men so
87:52
I think we need to liberate men from
87:54
that as well so how do we do that is I
87:56
think we have to speak about it as much
87:59
as possible and we have to make young
88:01
men understand that the liberation of
88:03
women is not and feminism is not just
88:06
about women
88:08
it’s actually about equalizing the sort
88:10
of playing field and also liberating men
88:13
from this cage yes liberation for men
88:16
from the narrative roles that they have
88:20
been granted which ultimately I would
88:23
say our roles that are prescribed by the
88:26
powerful directly but oh you know so
88:30
like we meant that I think this has gone
88:31
on for substantially longer than
88:34
was intended you know often and I don’t
88:36
trouble you with this kind of detail
88:38
people would hold up like a things and
88:41
like I really mean it’s 90 minutes now
88:43
and it continues but I think you’ve done
88:45
such an incredible work already I’m
88:47
fascinated to see the work that you will
88:50
continue to do and I hope that I can be
88:52
of some help to you does it make sense
88:54
what I’m saying no I think you may be
88:56
mentally of course it makes sense what
89:00
you’re saying I think but do you believe
89:02
that it’s doable do you believe that
89:04
what I’m saying that on an individual
89:06
level is how we start oh and building
89:09
solidarity between people yes beginning
89:13
has to be non judgement and well-being
89:15
while being personally discerning I also
89:17
believe that we have to have a
89:18
relationship with the transcendent which
89:20
you seem to understand that I think that
89:21
perhaps the primary problem is we define
89:23
ourselves by outward and material ideals
89:27
I think that if we can start to
89:29
challenge them we can start to break
89:31
down identity and reform identity I’m
89:34
not talking about some sort of
89:35
postmodern nightmare where no one knows
89:38
what England is anymore I’m saying is
89:40
that was you suggested in your very
89:42
first controversial insighting interview
89:45
that we have to reimagine states that
89:49
includes all of us the best version of
89:52
all of us and I think it’s this
89:53
obliteration of hope to which you
89:56
continually refer that is an important
89:59
factor that we need to reignite rien Dao
90:02
encourage people once more to believe in
90:05
a new vision one thing I did want to
90:07
pick you up on was when you spoke about
90:09
politicians and their visions you sort
90:11
of spoke of it in the abstract and in
90:12
fact your body language was you placed
90:14
it over there somewhere
90:15
and I think that possibly the
90:17
responsibility lies with us the the time
90:20
for abstract leadership particularly
90:22
within bodies there as we now know sort
90:24
of operate primarily at the behest of
90:25
corporate interests you know with the
90:30
excluding one or two noble I think the
90:34
extremes are actually reacting to
90:36
exactly what you’re saying
90:38
I think the extreme that the the all
90:40
these kind of convulsions that we’re
90:42
seeing on the fringes of our societies
90:44
is an actual reaction to the
90:47
that we’ve been reduced down to
90:48
consumers were being reduced down to all
90:51
these incredibly dehumanizing labels and
90:53
I think their attempts are actually
90:58
Noble in Anna and I kind of it’s a bit
91:01
uncomfortable for me to even say they
91:03
sort of feel this but I think some of
91:05
their intentions are actually no wolf in
91:07
that they’re fighting it mainstream is
91:09
well yeah and in the you know that their
91:11
intentions are actually about love
91:14
believe it or not it’s actually not hate
91:15
that drives them I know we keep talking
91:17
about hate when we’re speaking about
91:18
people like that but it’s actually love
91:20
and loyalty for each other and for a
91:23
future that they believe is it better
91:25
they don’t want to they are kind of the
91:28
collateral damage of global
91:30
globalization of of kind of this
91:32
consumer hyper extreme capitalist system
91:36
as well and so they’re trying to create
91:40
more meaning and and to become powerful
91:43
instead of powerless they want to matter
91:46
because they don’t and also as a culture
91:49
we only you have to you know sort of
91:52
think that the only time we reward these
91:54
guys with our attention is when they do
91:57
horrible things
91:58
so they matter to us when they commit
92:01
crimes sorry they’re telling you that
92:03
was ninety five minutes that we don’t
92:05
even have a sign for that sorry so I’m
92:07
not to make a new side to amalgamate the
92:10
five and the ninety signs never been
92:12
used before in completely new territory
92:13
an imagined realm history itself but no
92:17
less I just wanna do these quick could
92:18
do you mind if I ask you these quick
92:20
questions which we may be able to use
92:22
for clips and stuff because they’re more
92:24
to do with contemporary issues okay so
92:27
we talked about Tommy Robinson and Asian
92:30
grooming gangs and you were extremely
92:32
passionate weren’t ya it’s inspired one
92:34
of your girl greater rants one among
92:36
many in the league table of deer and
92:38
stars in constructing his Donald Trump a
92:42
real threat to Muslims and minorities in
92:45
America yes how
92:52
because he is dehumanizing anyone who
92:55
doesn’t fit into his vision of what it
92:57
means to be an American and what it
92:59
means to be a citizen and I think his
93:02
continuous reduction of people’s
93:06
humanity in this way will ultimately be
93:10
a recipe for violence really good and
93:12
surprisingly sinked he’s wearing a hijab
93:15
or burka anti-feminist
93:18
I think wearing a hijab can absolutely
93:24
be feminist burka I have real real
93:27
issues with personally right but again I
93:32
am a feminist concealing well the worker
93:35
also you meet very often it also
93:37
includes a niqab so it means you know
93:38
only your eyes showing so I have
93:40
problems with that when it comes to
93:43
hijab I completely will support women’s
93:45
rights to to choose that and to wear it
93:48
line then where’s the cutoff it’s like
93:50
it’s a creeping bit of fabric that’s
93:52
gotta be stopped at a certain bit the
93:54
face I think well I think it’s a matter
93:58
of the creeping fabric but I think it’s
94:00
also a matter of the age of the the
94:01
woman I think you know like I don’t
94:03
believe in compulsory veiling for
94:04
children I think that if you are at an
94:06
age where you can make an informed
94:08
decision about you know your politics
94:10
and your your body and how you manifest
94:12
your you know idea we don’t even think
94:14
that the Nazis are making informed
94:16
decisions we think they’re making
94:18
misinformed decisions we think that your
94:20
hat isn’t making misinformed decisions
94:22
that no one’s making informed decisions
94:24
people are responding to stimuli that’s
94:26
bogus distracting and misleading what
94:30
autonomy is there what free will is
94:31
there what is there accept abandoned in
94:33
fact of our individual identity at the
94:37
sack to be sacrificed at the altar of
94:39
some higher ideal called love or God no
94:42
but I I don’t think that it’s as fluid
94:43
as that I think you know it’s it’s all
94:46
really went for it you know but but you
94:48
know you look at Iran you know
94:49
compulsory veiling you know it’s a nanny
94:51
and if a woman just you know lightly
94:52
loose and surveil you know it’s it’s
94:53
it’s a it’s a reason for her getting
94:55
punished
94:56
you know violently or with prison
94:57
sentences or with social ramifications
94:59
same in Saudi Arabia you cannot walk
95:02
you know the the the kind of conduct
95:06
that women are expected to expected to
95:08
participate in is incredibly reductive
95:12
when it comes to their humanity so I
95:14
think it’s not as fluid as that but I do
95:16
think in Western countries you know with
95:18
so many of my Muslim female friends who
95:20
do choose to wear the hijab I absolutely
95:23
support it I choose not to my
95:24
grandmother didn’t use it my mother
95:26
doesn’t use it but a lot of other women
95:28
do they have done in the past and they
95:30
will continue to in the future and I
95:31
support that when it comes to the burka
95:33
for me personally not so much will if a
95:36
woman sits herself down here right now
95:38
and says look here this is my choice I
95:40
really feel more comfortable this way I
95:42
would say great I will fight for your
95:44
right to do so but when it comes to
95:46
three year olds four year olds five year
95:48
olds I’m not a fan of that but can it be
95:52
feminist it can be I don’t particularly
95:54
like I don’t know how many times I’m
95:57
gonna say that I don’t particularly like
95:58
the book as you can imagine about it
96:01
yeah what about auntie fur our Auntie
96:05
fur as bad as the far right how do you
96:07
mean by as bad as you know volatile
96:10
aggressive extremists I do think that
96:14
aspects of the auntie fur are becoming I
96:18
think there’s a Co radicalization going
96:20
on I think the extreme right and the
96:22
extreme left are kind of feeding off
96:23
each other and I do think that in in and
96:26
again I think masculinity comes here
96:28
more than anything else I think in in
96:29
the attempt to outdo the other end of
96:32
the spectrum I think both sides are
96:34
becoming more and more willing to to
96:37
relegate their political views to
96:40
violent expression which I disagree with
96:43
regardless of which side it comes from
96:45
but obviously my political leaning is on
96:48
the left anyway so I mean I’ve been a
96:50
part of kind of the ante for protests in
96:53
my own life and you got that spray the I
96:56
did I used to be a Nazi when I see
96:58
remember that other day yeah remember
97:00
that one are they as bad as each other I
97:04
think it depends on their behavior I
97:07
don’t agree with violence no matter who
97:11
perpetrates it does have some general
97:13
principles like that isn’t it let’s not
97:14
have violence there
97:15
let people express their individuality
97:17
and up to harming others yeah consent
97:22
just basic ideas right there are some
97:25
general principles that we can have the
97:29
label saying no have we surpassed all
97:32
that people are just saying five stuff
97:33
out there now they’ve gone it’s just you
97:36
know people I am recording this we’re
97:38
having this conversation hey this is the
97:43
thing say when I chatted to Jordan
97:45
Peterson and he says that much of the
97:48
rise of the current wave of feminism and
97:51
the anger inhered within it is in
97:54
accordance with us a archetype known as
97:58
the I can’t really the exact sort of the
98:02
exact archetype is saying that it’s in
98:04
accordance with an idea of that sort of
98:05
a negative female energy like the
98:07
devouring mother that what we protest
98:10
against is the sort of like you know
98:11
that there’s the possibility for the
98:13
positive male the you know benevolent
98:15
king they’re cruel King the benevolent
98:18
mother they’re cruel mother that we are
98:21
experiencing not you know people took a
98:23
lot about toxic masculinity what about
98:25
toxic femininity that’s a good more
98:27
succinct way of saying that there is
98:30
such a thing do you think so toxic
98:32
femininity do yeah that’s the my
98:34
question I mean III don’t know how that
98:36
manifests itself I don’t know how was
98:38
right – rage rage against the patriarchy
98:42
commerce but how is that toxic I mean
98:45
it’s it’s if you are on the receiving
98:46
end of persecution abuse violence
98:50
oppression for centuries
98:53
then if women dare to be angry for once
98:58
and not fill that the prescribed boxes
99:01
of be a good thing of government be
99:03
obedient
99:04
be be you know be a good girl don’t
99:07
react to be polite if women for once get
99:11
angry at being cut walking brutalized
99:14
and that’s it yeah yeah but what about
99:19
min ago when you just said with Muslims
99:22
we can’t have one category that is
99:24
Muslim with 1.5 billion people this the
99:27
need
99:29
to verify the the feminism is that there
99:32
is such a thing as a woman and that
99:34
there is such a thing as female
99:35
oppression couldn’t we similarly regard
99:37
oppression as happening at the level of
99:39
economics of under classes that occurs
99:42
regardless of gender well but it happens
99:46
because of agenda it happens but but you
99:49
but there are multiple layers of
99:50
oppression though that there’s not one
99:52
women don’t experience oppression just
99:55
because of their gender women also have
99:57
class women also have race you know all
99:59
these other markers aren’t just the
100:02
luxury of men or just the identifiers of
100:05
men they’re also identified identifiers
100:07
of women so women experience all the
100:10
layers of oppression that for example a
100:12
working-class man a working-class woman
100:14
experienced all the same forms of
100:17
oppression that are working-class mandus
100:18
but she has one added form of oppression
100:22
which also is assigned to her gender so
100:25
a woman can be standing out in in the
100:29
streets of or Tahrir Square in Egypt
100:31
right fighting against the oppressor
100:33
against Mubarak at the time
100:36
the Arab Spring when that was going on
100:38
she can be standing shoulder to shoulder
100:40
with her male you know there they were
100:42
demanding for freedom and and liberty
100:44
and dignity and bread and and you know
100:46
various other things but that woman also
100:50
has the added pressure of being
100:53
oppressed and abused potentially by her
100:55
father brother husband partner but the
100:58
man doesn’t I also work a lot with
101:00
artistic freedom and an artists who are
101:02
persecuted and in prison and tortured
101:04
and censored for various reasons women
101:07
experienced all the same things as their
101:08
male counterparts female journalists
101:10
experienced the same thing as their
101:12
their male counterparts with the added
101:14
layer of abuse that comes with the fact
101:17
that you’re a woman I understand this
101:20
Jordan Peters I think I actually only
101:21
got familiar with him through your work
101:23
actually people kept mentioning his name
101:25
I’m you know I’m still not that familiar
101:27
with him I appreciate the fact that he
101:29
is tracked he trying to speak to
101:30
something in men who are really
101:32
struggling and are really searching for
101:34
something I really appreciate that and I
101:35
think it’s really important that
101:36
somebody speak to that however I don’t
101:39
think that that needs to be at
101:40
expensive women and at the expense of
101:42
women getting to manifest their there
101:45
for Humanity it doesn’t have to be
101:47
either/or that’s what I do but perhaps
101:49
then we shouldn’t be opposing those
101:52
arguments by using its binary opposite
101:55
perhaps we should be continually
101:56
rejecting those terms those labels
102:01
female male you know I’m not suggesting
102:04
that we’ve become some kind of beingness
102:07
but just be human we can I agree with
102:11
you I agree with you but I think I think
102:13
we can try to aspire to the label of
102:16
human but the the reason these labels
102:19
matter in the process of getting to that
102:21
place is until and until oppression and
102:26
violence and an abuse of women stops in
102:30
the name of their gender in the name of
102:33
because you are a woman you are less
102:36
than until that stops we don’t get to
102:40
the category of we are all human
102:42
all women want all feminism is about
102:44
it’s not an T male it’s not we want men
102:48
to have less rights or we want now it’s
102:50
the time of women they want women to
102:52
take men to take a back seat
102:54
it is about liberating us all to just
102:57
yeah but when you speak on behalf of a
103:00
kind of spiritual progressivism you
103:03
speak as an individual when you speak in
103:04
terms of gender you speak as if feminism
103:06
is one you near when I would imagine
103:09
there are possibility many times I feel
103:10
it is different no no no I I don’t speak
103:12
of it as a unit I speak more as the
103:17
general experiences of women across the
103:21
world having done the work that I’ve
103:22
done and of course I can only you know
103:24
be in contact with so many people
103:26
personally but in the contact that I
103:28
have had it is absolutely undeniable
103:33
that women are suffering in so many
103:37
different contexts around the world
103:39
whether it comes to equal pay whether it
103:43
comes to equal protection under the law
103:45
whether it comes to protection from
103:47
violence whether it comes from there
103:50
just basic dignity and human rights when
103:53
something is expand
103:54
even as global as that how can you know
103:56
like I’m a man and but my most important
104:00
relationship in my life are with women
104:02
there all of them like so like I
104:05
obviously have a vested interest in the
104:08
people I love most living in a fair and
104:10
equal society
104:12
yeah I’m not particularly unique among
104:17
men
104:18
you’re not other than the charisma and
104:19
the eyebrows let’s not rule them out I
104:21
like it in loads of ways I’d like my
104:23
priorities would be the people I love
104:25
and the people I love are women and this
104:27
is where I do have I mean I do have
104:29
arguments with my feminist friends who
104:30
basically say you know me some of them
104:33
do say you know men are kind of a lost
104:35
cause all that kind of right there are
104:37
different types of feminism I’m not
104:39
saying that there aren’t I’m not saying
104:40
that there aren’t to me the goal is that
104:45
we all get to a place where we are just
104:47
human that’s got to be the goal that is
104:49
the goal that absolutely is the goal and
104:51
that is also the goal of a lot of
104:53
feminists maybe not all as a woman
104:57
believe that one of the areas that most
104:59
needs to be addressed is gender
105:00
inequality and then I as a man believe
105:02
for some quirky biographical reason
105:05
think iceberg to do with class and
105:07
oppression that have dinner Lille I know
105:09
but it’s I don’t believe that it’s just
105:11
got to do with gender I believe that
105:12
it’s got to do with gender class race
105:15
icon it’s got to do with all of it
105:18
that’s that’s the difference I’m saying
105:21
that gender is one more layer of
105:23
identity or one more layer of the
105:25
experience of being a human being that
105:28
defines what that experience is for for
105:30
an individual for a human in the time
105:33
that we have here so I’m not saying that
105:35
it’s not class not race not all of this
105:38
it absolutely is but one more experience
105:41
is also gender and I also want to say
105:43
that you being a man and like you just
105:45
said you know your closest relationships
105:47
or you know kind of investments in human
105:49
beings are actually with a lot of women
105:51
I think where a lot of feminists are
105:56
struggling or where we need to do better
105:59
if I mean I don’t really like a group
106:01
thing anyway but there you go if we have
106:04
to speak in those terms I I think we’re
106:06
feminists could
106:07
better is to understand that we are only
106:10
going to win these battles shoulder to
106:12
shoulder it has to be man and women
106:14
together
106:15
it cannot be women will win this battle
106:17
and men will win this battle and then
106:19
we’ll somehow figure it out together
106:20
it’s we have to fight together but you
106:22
tell me how do we involve more men you
106:24
know every like when I’ve been to
106:26
conferences and and conversations or
106:28
whatever about violence against women
106:29
the entire room it’s filled with women
106:32
the perpetrator is male so where’s the
106:35
guy I reckon it’s by you know luck when
106:38
we talked about James Baldwin I mean it
106:40
go yeah it’s by reconciling that the
106:44
identity is non-binary of sort of a
106:47
modern gender politics idea within that
106:51
you have to liberate the femaleness that
106:55
is almost like a kind of internal brexit
106:59
well fifty-one percent you know wanna
107:01
leave forty-nine percent want to stay
107:04
any man is almost female that we are
107:08
closer to reject these terms to liberate
107:11
the female within yourself to
107:12
acknowledge that women are the most
107:15
important people probably in your own
107:17
life and not to commodify and objectify
107:21
other human beings and to look at how
107:25
look at your own life and see where you
107:27
do that and see and be willing to change
107:30
a lot of people aren’t willing to change
107:31
I think you can do with anyone who’s
107:33
willing to change you hasn’t ossified
107:34
into a belief system that they use
107:37
instead of an identity yeah but I think
107:39
that that means that both sides of the
107:41
argument have to as you said be willing
107:43
to stand shoulder to shoulder willing to
107:44
reconcile willing to have a shared
107:46
vision is about creating an ideal as
107:49
opposed to venting ray yes and I mean
107:52
ultimately the goal like we said you
107:53
know it is about how do we ensure that’s
107:56
that people’s full humanity and whatever
107:59
their dreams and their hopes and their
108:01
their loves and and and whatever that
108:03
whatever their vision of themselves and
108:06
their future is that that gets to
108:08
manifest its manifest itself in its full
108:11
flourishing positive wonderful glory and
108:14
how do we how do we do that together how
108:17
do we do that without demeaning each
108:20
other
108:20
and to me the answer it’s sort of in my
108:23
kind of personal sort of small life is
108:26
being empathy empathy is kind of one of
108:28
the most important tools and one of the
108:30
most instruments I think that we have
108:32
available to us that we need to deploy
108:34
in that and and there within that is
108:37
it’s about stories how do we tell
108:40
stories in a way that we see ourselves
108:43
in each other where we recognize our
108:45
humanity in each other where we make it
108:47
possible for a disenfranchised man to
108:51
recognize what it might be like to be a
108:54
woman who’s experiencing violence and
108:56
vice versa you know and how do we and
108:58
also for us to recognize that a lot of
109:01
these barriers are sort of barriers and
109:04
divisions these walls I mean Trump keeps
109:06
talking about building a physical so
109:08
what are you for but but you know he’s
109:11
been so successful at building walls
109:13
between us as human beings already that
109:15
wall doesn’t the physical doesn’t exist
109:17
he’s already being successful in that so
109:19
how do we break down those walls how do
109:21
we create some more in plural inclusive
109:24
future you’re an incredible person I
109:27
think that what you are doing by placing
109:32
yourself among the people that you would
109:34
have the most obvious conflict is a
109:37
brilliant way of metabolizing our
109:40
potential to transcend those barriers
109:44
and boundaries and create connections
109:46
and ultimately having the optimistic
109:49
perspective that you clearly have that
109:51
love is more powerful than I that we
109:53
will get there that you will never undo
109:56
hatred with more hatred and that we have
109:58
to continually reach out in love to the
110:00
people that we have opposed it and
110:02
certainly those that oppose us yes dear
110:05
Wow what an incredible conversation that
110:06
is I feel a little bit like I’ve taken
110:08
drugs word drugs likewise thank you
110:14
you know thanks for watching this
110:16
podcast and going all the way to the end
110:18
of it was using kind of to kick the bell
110:19
when I’ve been able over there and
110:21
they’re subscribing so that we can
110:23
infiltrate your serenity and peace of
110:27
mind with jangling bells and buzzers

Narcissism and Its Discontents | Ramani Durvasula | TEDxSedona

Narcissism has not only become a normalized social condition, it is increasingly being incentivized. The framework of narcissism with the central pillars of lack of empathy, entitlement, grandiosity, superficiality, anger, rage, arrogance, and shallow emotion is a manifestation of pathological insecurity – an insecurity that is experienced at both the individual and societal level. The paradox is that we value these patterns – and venerate them through social media, mainstream media, and consumerism, they represent a fast-track to financial and professional success. These traits are endemic in political, corporate, academic, and media leaders. There are few lives which are not personally touched by narcissists – be it your spouse, partner, parent, child, colleague, boss, friend, sibling, or neighbor. Whether societally or individually, the toxic wave of narcissism, entitlement, and pathological insecurity is harming us all. The enticements of charm, charisma, confidence, and success can draw us in or blind us to the damaging truths of narcissism. The invalidation inherent in these relationships infects those are in them with self-doubt, despair, confusion, anxiety, depression and the chronic feeling of being “not enough,” all of which make it so difficult to step away and set boundaries. The illusion of hope and the fantasy of redemption can result in years of second chances for narcissists, and despondency when change never comes. It’s time for a wake-up call. Health and wellness campaigns preach avoidance of unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyles, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, but rarely preach avoidance of unhealthy or toxic people. Yet the health benefits of removing toxic people from a life may have a far greater benefit to both physical and psychological health than going to the gym. We need to learn to be better gatekeepers for our minds, bodies, and souls. Instead of habituating to the global shift of validating narcissism and other toxic patterns, it’s time to understand it and take our lives back. Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks, CA and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, where she was named Outstanding Professor in 2012. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

today I am going to talk about the most
overused misunderstood problematic words
of our time a phenomenon a word that is
shaping all of our destinies that word
is narcissism narcissism is a word that
is being used to understand bad behavior
everywhere in national leaders in heads
of state heads of corporations fancy
academic types athletes celebrities we
actually no longer recoil at their
grandiosity their entitlement and their
incivility in fact too many people award
them grudging admiration for their
successes and that grants permission to
everyone to replicate these abusive
patterns of behavior with impunity now
things got confusing when people started
using narcissism as a clinical term it
became a way of medicalizing bad
behavior it’s actually not a diagnostic
term narcissistic personality disorder
is a diagnosis but it’s pretty rare
because these folks don’t show up to be
diagnosed anyhow so narcissism is in
fact a personality pattern it’s a sort
of way of relating to the world it’s an
adjective to describe their style much
like you could describe someone as
agreeable or stubborn or introverted
some of these patterns are valued by
society and others aren’t and the fact
is most people don’t receive being
called narcissistic as a compliment it’s
just however a descriptive term and no
matter how much we turn our noses up at
it paradoxically as a society we reward
it dr. Alan Francis was one of the
architects of the diagnosis of
narcissistic personality disorder and he
argues that we actually give badly
behaved jerks and out when we call it a
diagnosis if a person is a jerk then
they’re a jerk disliking a pattern of
behavior doesn’t make it a mental
illness that so-called jerk has to be
experiencing problems in their lives
and for their narcissism to actually be
considered a diagnosis
so if we were to cobble together all the
various things that make up narcissism
we land on a very uncomfortable summit
narcissism is comprised of certain
pillars as I call them

  • lack of empathy
  • grandiosity
  • entitlement
  • superficiality
    admiration and
  • validation seeking
  • hypersensitivity rage and a
  • tendency to manipulate and exploit people

it’s confusing because they’re simultaneously
under responsive they tend to be
emotionally aloof cold and distant but
then they’re hyper responsive they have
hair-trigger temper that set off like
that when their fragile egos get
threatened so narcissism however I
believe is synonymous with pathological
insecurity the key to understanding the
narcissist is that they feel constantly
unstable and empty their grandiosity is
actually an immature defense against
these threats to them their sense of
self and they’re desperate for the world
to keep validating them on their good
days they look happy they’re great
they’re grandiose but on the bad days
the facade crumbles quickly and we see
disproportionate rage shame and
vindictiveness I became interested in
narcissism through a couple of different
pathways but the most striking was the
fact that more and more clients were
coming into my office and talking about
relationships in which their partners
treated them with utter disregard
indifference coldness they lacked
empathy they would question their
reality they would lie to them at times
they were unfaithful they were
inconsistent and no matter what they
tried with their partner it didn’t get
better at the same time I started
working with more narcissistic clients
and would you know nothing we tried
really made things better in fact they
just remain difficult people and I don’t
think I’m not bad a therapist so it was
clear that these relationships were
being kept in place simultaneously by
hope and fear hope that someday it would
get better if they kept trying harder
but fear that if they left these
relationships they would be alone
forever without
partner or even without a mother and
some of them had the fear that maybe
this is as good as it gets the world has
become more insecure and the reasons for
that are varied galip’s annual global
emotions report said that in 2017 was
the most miserable in about a decade the
report indicated that sadness anger
worry stress and physical pain were more
frequently endorsed last year than in
the ten years prior
now Gallup speculated on a variety of
reasons for this but let’s pitfall for a
minute could it be that this increase in
misery could reflect the increase in
insecurity incivility and tolerance of
narcissism our world supports the
increasing insecurity in our world and
the platforms that capitalize on it such
as consumerism have created optimal
fertile ground for narcissism to
incubate and proliferate when human
value is driven entirely by external
incentives such as success then
qualities such as empathy do not have a
fighting chance because we no longer
value them and they’re no longer
valuable so why do we get pulled into
these relationships
we’re not flocking to narcissism because
we love emotional coldness or
invalidation or shallow people
we’re drawn in because narcissism is
seductive I call it the three C’s of narcissism

  1. charm
  2. charisma and
  3. confidence

that’s not to say that all charming and
charismatic people are narcissistic
however we do know that these traits are
so seductive that we get drawn in and
they can blind us to the more venomous
characteristics that are unfolding at
the same time such as entitlement
vindictiveness or lack of empathy so
then once a person is in a relationship
and it’s uncomfortable and is painful
why would they stay with a narcissist
all of us are vulnerable to those
narcissistic charms and in fact we may
be rendered even more vulnerable to
sticking around for the abuse by a
narcissist if we originated from family
systems in which the patterns of
narcissism were normalized such as
having a cold authoritarian
distant invalidating or abusive parents
our own insecurities render us
vulnerable and also less able to climb
out when the climate shifts from charm
and charisma to invalidation and abuse
most of us are great at giving second
chances and second chances are in fact
the accelerant for narcissism at all
levels when we are in a narcissistic
relationship we make excuses that’s just
how he is he didn’t really mean that she
means well ah that’s just her culture
and there’s the rub that’s how this
infectious virus of being in any form of
narcissistic relationship whether with
an individual or a family or a company
or a culture can slowly proliferate and
take over most of us issue second
chances with zeal our storytelling in
our culture is immersed in tales of hope
redemption and forgiveness and while
that’s all very healthy in the wrong
hands hope and forgiveness may not
represent an opportunity for growth or
change or restoration but rather
permission to just keep things going as
they are because with narcissists
forgiveness is interpreted as hey let’s
just keep the status quo have we created
a world in which narcissism as a pattern
as a personality is becoming necessary
to succeed in the new world order this
is where we hit a bit of a problematic
divide the very qualities associated
with material success are actually bad
for our health because while these
qualities may be festered and fostered
by our cultures and our schools and our
economies and our societies they are
never going to be good for our close
relationships and that doesn’t just mean
spouses and partners that means parents
children siblings extended family
friends colleagues narcissistic patterns
undercut the core of what’s necessary
for healthy relationships those things
include mutuality respect compassion
patience genuineness honesty and trust
things that are simply not possible with
the system or a person which is
narcissistic and it’s in that intimate
relationship space where we see the most
profound impacts of a narcissist what
did that be a spouse or a partner a
relationship with a narcissist is a
gradual indoctrination you slowly become
inured to their lack of empathy though
Tantrums their rage their insults and
their entitlement their lies and their
challenges to your reality they’re
insulting words slowly become your
self-talk and before you know it your
new mantra becomes I am not enough
anyone who’s had a narcissistic parent
will acknowledge that it shaped the arc
of their lives it instilled an
insecurity in a chronic jousting at
psychological windmills from an early
age narcissistic parents leave a legacy
including an inability to trust your own
instincts to safely enter close
relationships to trust your own
abilities and a lifetime can be spent
trying to gain the notice of the aloof
detached and disconnected parent the
proliferation of narcissism and
leadership in our culture governments
companies and world has made very
difficult workplaces the narcissistic
boss is the insecure tyrant
these are workplaces ruled by fear and
subterfuge abuse and vindictiveness
deceit and slippery ethics and in the
face of the me2 movement the top notes
of narcissism pervaded all of the
stories the entitled and untouchable
tyrant pillaging the workforce and in
most case with almost no consequences
the most painful realization is that
narcissistic patterns are just not that
amenable to change at a minimum for any
change to occur the narcissus has to
recognize the harmful pattern of their
behavior then they have to want to
change it and then they have to put in
the daily work of change there is a
small number of cases where that kind of
happened but under conditions of stress
and frustration the usual issues of Rage
will pop up the rubberband of
personality returns to its usual shape
and size
the small changes that could be made may
not be enough to make a close intimate
relationship sustainable and if somebody
is not willing to recognize that they
need to make changes because they’re
hurting other people there’s little
likelihood they will make a change but
there is a likelihood they will continue
to blame other people the world or you
for their bad behavior so that means
that the only remaining strategies are
to maintain your expectations and set
boundaries not to try to change that
person or waste hope on the possibility
of change but to recognize that this is
how it is and either accept it or slowly
step away from it now this is very
individual and it’s not always possible
if it’s your parents or your child who’s
narcissistic you may not be willing to
sever that tie finances culture children
or love can make walking away from a
marriage or a romantic relationship
seemingly impossible and that’s fine but
managing expectations on this pattern
can protect you from the downstream
effects of this ongoing abuse and allow
you to construct a more realistic
reality sadly most of us put 90 percent
of our hearts minds and souls into our
most dysfunctional unhealthy
invalidating relationships and save the
little bit that’s left for the people
who are good and kind to us it’s time we
flip this skewed calculus and start
giving the best of ourselves to our
healthy and reciprocal relationships and
really only give the bare minimum to the
relationships that really aren’t helping
us grow perhaps that’s a healthier way
of negotiating these treacherous waters
of narcissism without losing ourselves
in the depths of self-doubt and
self-criticism now this can be extended
to our thinking about the world at large
it can be small fixes such as turning
off the polarizing discourses we hear
and learning to measure our self-worth
and the worth of others with new metrics
of success

  • authenticity
  • compassion
  • kindness
  • and empathy

we can learn to
tend to our own gardens and not get
pulled into hostile interactions that
benefit no one so this begs a question
can there be happy endings or
narcissistic or
tagging istic personalities and cultures
are concerned I actually think there can
be the greatest challenge about happy
endings in real life is that they rarely
look like the ones we crafted when we’re
young and it’s easy to get stuck in our
own old narratives people who come from
narcissistic families may feel as though
they missed out on having a parent who
is an ally or a supporter even as they
go into adulthood people who married
narcissistic partners may find
themselves mired in a nightmare of
emotional abuse or simply finding that
they’re actually alone despite being
married few people write stories of
their lives that build in disappointment
I have found that survivors of all kinds
of narcissistic and antagonistic
relationships actually can and do have
happy endings they just don’t look like
they thought all of us are bigger than
this epidemic of narcissism any of us
can change that you are not enough
narrative that still resonates we can
repair it ourselves we can look at the
entitled shenanigans of people who
shriek don’t you know who I am and
realize that you don’t give a damn about
who they are where there are scars
beautiful things actually can spring
forth
khalil gibran writes out of suffering
have emerged the strongest Souls the
most massive characters are seared with
scars yes the world is in fact becoming
more narcissistic and insecure
don’t let the global epidemic of
incivility infect you inoculate yourself
find your communities find common ground
with other people instead of living in
polarization practice kindness and
empathy even when other people are not
choose your friends and your romances
with care every life story can be a
miracle or a tragedy it just depends on
how you write it
these days with the world in such
disarray anyone who is surviving with
their empathy unbroken their hearts
sound their integrity in place and
theirs
sense of humor intact is nothing short
of dauntless pushing back on narcissism
is a human rights issue all of us need
to stop giving permission to narcissism
and narcissists and start taking our
lives our souls and our world back thank you

Fruit of the Holy Spirit

9 Attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit, according to chapter 5 of the Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is:

  • Love (Greek: agape, Latin: caritas)
  • Joy (Greek: chara, Latin: gaudium)
  • Peace (Greek: eirene, Latin: pax)
  • Patience (Greek: makrothumia, Latin: longanimitas)
  • Kindness (Greek: chrestotes, Latin: benignitas)
  • Goodness (Greek: agathosune, Latin: bonitas)
  • Faithfulness (Greek: pistis, Latin: fides)
  • Gentleness (Greek: prautes, Latin: modestia)
  • Self-control (Greek: egkrateia, Latin: continentia)

Love (Agape) #

  • Agape (love) denotes an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good for others, no matter their behavior
  • It is a love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object.
  • Agape is more a love by choice than philos, which is love by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world.
  • Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13:4–8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Joy #

  • The joy referred to here is deeper than mere happiness, is rooted in God and comes from Him. Since it comes from God, it is more serene and stable than worldly happiness, which is merely emotional and lasts only for a time.

Peace #

  • The word “peace” comes from the Greek word eirene, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word shalom, which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures. The word eirene strongly suggests the rule of order in place of chaos.[13]
  • .. of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  • Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace, who brings peace to the hearts of those who desire it.
  • He says in John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. In Matthew 5:9 he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”[15]

Patience #

  • Generally the Greek world applied this word to a man who could avenge himself but did not.
  • This word is often used in the Greek Scriptures in reference to God and God’s attitude to humans.
    Exodus 34:6 describes the Lord as “slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
  • Patience, which in some translations is “longsuffering” or “endurance”, is defined in Strong’s by two Greek words, makrothumia and hupomone.
  • Also included in makrothumia is the ability to endure persecution and ill-treatment.
  • It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint.
  • It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances,
    not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat, (Strong’s #5281) with hupomone (Greek ὑπομονή) being further understood as that which would be “as opposed to cowardice or despondency”

Kindness #

  • Kindness is acting for the good of people regardless of what they do, properly, “useable, i.e. well-fit for use
  • Kindness is goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence, kindness, affability. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience. The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control. (emphasis added)
  • The word kindness comes from the Greek word chrestotes (khray-stot-ace), which meant to show kindness or to be friendly to others and often depicted rulers, governors, or people who were kind, mild, and benevolent to their subjects. Anyone who demonstrated this quality of chrestotes was considered to be compassionate, considerate, sympathetic, humane, kind, or gentle. The apostle Paul uses this word to depict God’s incomprehensible kindness for people who are unsaved (see Romans 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4).
  • One scholar has noted that when the word chrestotes is applied to interpersonal relationships, it conveys the idea of being adaptable to others. Rather than harshly require everyone else to adapt to his own needs and desires, when chrestotes is working in a believer, he seeks to become adaptable to the needs of those who are around him.
  • Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respect and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what. We should live “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left”.[23]

Goodness #

  • The state or quality of being good
  • Moral excellence; virtue;
  • Kindly feeling, kindness, generosity, joy in being good
  • The best part of anything; Essence; Strength;
  • General character recognized in quality or conduct.

Faithfulness #

  • The root of pistis[27] (“faith”) is peithô,[28] that is to persuade or be persuaded, which supplies the core-meaning of faith as being “divine persuasion”, received from God, and never generated by man.
  • It is defined as the following:
    • objectively, trustworthy;
    • subjectively, trustful:—believe(-ing, -r), faithful(-ly), sure, true.[29]

Gentleness #

  • Gentleness, in the Greek, prautes, commonly known as meekness, is “a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith
  • “a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has the passions under control.
  • The word is best translated ‘meekness,’ not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control.
  • The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well“.
  • Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted”.[Gal 6:1]
  • “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”.[Eph 4:2]

Self-control #

  • The Greek word used in Galatians 5:23 is “egkrateia”, meaning “strong, having mastery, able to control one’s thoughts and actions.“[33]
  • We read also: “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love”.[2 Pet 1:5-7]

 

Memorize All 9 with a Song:

Here’s a song that will help you memorize the fruits of the spirit: