Dear friends,

Watching America from afar this week has felt like an exercise in time. I’ve stayed up late to listen to results on the radio. I’ve texted friends — waiting until I think they’re awake so as not to disturb sleep. 

Where a week might speed by for many of us in an average season of 2020, this week has taken its time to come, and perhaps has also dragged by. If you were on holiday, Tuesday to Friday would slip by like a little stream. Waiting for results demonstrates the relativity of time. When we want the certitude of an outcome, every second of waiting can stretch to longer than a second. 

Working in conflict mediation I learned that time passes differently for different people. Someone who has perpetuated a trauma might think the trauma was way in the past, because it was a year ago, a decade ago, half a lifetime ago. Someone who has lived with the impact of that trauma may not see this as “past.” For them, the past might be now, and now, and now, and now. Unaddressed trauma is not packaged away, and is often occurring again and again. This is as true for individuals as it is for populations.

Krista’s conversation with Karen Murphy delves deep into time. Karen has worked with Facing History And Ourselves for many years, collaborating with educators in parts of the world where conflict has been a public narrative. History is a mirror, she says, for considering how we act, now and in the future. Karen Murphy addresses the shame that some populations might experience when they explore their complicit past. She is not afraid of it, and notes that facing shame could actually lead people toward improved practices of democracy — remembering, acknowledging, discussing, learning, change … all leading to greater enactments of justice.

Roger Robinson’s poem “A Portable Paradise” offers a way into nurture while we wait in the long ache of time. His grandmother urged him to keep a portable paradise with him, to tend to it, whether he is in opulence or need; to not let anyone take it away, even though they will try. The paradise can keep hope alive, even while waiting for the justice that the paradise longs for. Philip Metres’ poem “One Tree” brings us to a neighborhood — like many of our neighborhoods — where a dispute about a tree and a fence has erupted. A whole world can be found in this poem: the conflict escalates; someone gets angry; someone calls a tree surgeon; someone tries to hide; spouses find themselves with different reactions. Does this history need to repeat itself endlessly? How can we ensure that the future is made of less predictable stuff than the past that plagues us? 

In all the waiting of your week — for results from elections, for different news, for finality, for certitude — the work of the past is calling for attention. A new future will only be built on courageous moments, and those are happening now, and now and now. 

In the waiting, we are with you, considering history, paradise and conflict, considering how these patterns of time are inviting us to new actions. 

Beir bua

Pádraig Ó Tuama
host of Poetry Unbound

P.S. — On Wednesday, Krista joined Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel for a conversation about life after the U.S. Election. Watch a replay on Facebook.


This Week at The On Being Project

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On Being with Krista Tippett

Karen Murphy
The Long View, II: On Who We Can Become

The multigenerational “story of us,” how to prepare for the work ahead, and who can be our teachers.

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Poetry Unbound

Roger Robinson
A Portable Paradise

A poem about holding onto hope, especially when others seek to steal or deny it. 

Philip Metres
One Tree

The branches of a tree hang over a dividing fence — this causes strife between spouses and neighbors, and the poet uses it as a parable for conflict. 

Listen on:

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Poetry Film: Kindness

We’re collaborating with a diverse array of international visual artists for a new “Poetry Films” series on YouTube. Watch Ana Pérez López’s video featuring Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness.”

Staff Recommendations

Watch | Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
“Kindness. Tenderness. Forgiveness. Hope. These are just a few of the things that I’ve learned more about simply by watching Ted Lasso. Jason Sudeikis and his team of writers have created a lead character that is equal parts Mr. Rogers, Coach Eric Taylor, and Leslie Knope. The joy and wisdom found in this show is healing.” — Liliana Maria Percy Ruíz, Executive Producer

Listen | Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
“She’s truly a genius songwriter who compounds unnameable and uncomfortable feelings, alchemy-like, into diamonds of lyrics like ‘The doctor put her hands over my liver / And she told me my resentment’s getting smaller.’” — Gautam Srikishan, Producer

Read |  The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission
An independent, democratically-selected body established in 2004 to examine "the context, causes, sequence and consequence of the events on Nov. 3, 1979” in Greensboro, North Carolina — for the purpose of healing transformation for the community.


A Poet Reads the Gospels
Nov 10, 6:30 p.m. ET
Digital livestream (must register)

Join Pádraig Ó Tuama as he gives a keynote for the Church of the Heavenly Rest NYC — exploring poetry, hope, and the literature of the Christian gospels. More information.

The Long Road Ahead of Healing the Heart of American Democracy
Nov. 18, 4-5 p.m. ET
Digital livestream (must register)

Join NationSwell and Einhorn Collaborative for this conversation, moderated by Krista Tippett, about what it will take to heal and repair our fractured country and how each of us can contribute to this urgent, long-term work. More information


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