This week’s letter is from Krista Tippett:
Thank you to all who have sent messages of concern for our well-being in Minneapolis. Though we haven’t worked in our beautiful studio on Loring Park for several months, it is safe and sound and so are we, the people of On Being.
But our hearts are broken by what has happened in recent days — the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the protests and riots that followed here and across the country. This has all compounded the loss, danger, and grief of these months of pandemic. But it has erupted, more deeply, out of generation upon generation of how we have lived “race.” Race is a dehumanizing construct, an invention of white people in modernity; I recommend this excellent podcast episode by our friends at Scene on Radio to understand its origins. Its endless terrible consequences have distorted our bodies, souls, and societies.
The Greek word “apocalypse,” as you may have heard me say in On Being interviews of recent years, does not mean a catastrophic undoing. It means an uncovering — the lifting of a veil. The Covid-19 virus — a product of the natural world, spread by human contact — has indeed uncovered all of the reckonings we must walk towards if we are to become wise and whole as individuals, communities, and institutions. The question of “who we will be to each other” has been surfacing ever more insistently across my conversations for over a decade, and its civilizational implications have now been laid bare in our economies, our politics, and our cultures.
Will we create the world our children — all of our children — deserve to inhabit? Will we structure our life together to honor the professions and the people we have now named as essential? However difficult the lockdown has been, this is the real hard work, and it is ahead of us — life by life, community by community, day by day.
The good news is, none of us is alone in this. As you’ve also heard me say (I fear I am repeating myself as I near my 60th year!), I experience the far-flung landscape of On Being guests and listeners and friends as makers and keepers of the generative story of our time, which exists right alongside the better-publicized narrative of destruction and decay. The landscape of practical human care and moral imagination, of social creativity and courage — and of “resistant joy,” as Imani Perry puts it — has never sat more vividly alongside all the terrible news.
This week’s show with Gregory Orr, already heading for the satellites as everything unfolded, is about grief — an experience so many of us are carrying with infinite variety in these times. Tending to our own sorrow and brokenness is part of the work of tending to the brokenness outside us. In that spirit too I’m honored to bring you a conversation next week that we had in our Minneapolis studio just before the world changed, with clinical therapist Resmaa Menakem. He lives and works in this city as well. If you’re able, get your hands on his extraordinary book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Path to Mending our Hearts and Bodies. And in the coming days we will be finding new ways to speak into this moment, including turning to the teachers and voices from our archive that you’re telling us are accompanying you in this moment. Keep an eye out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and our podcast feed.
Stay safe. Be excessively gentle with yourself, as John O’Donohue once said — and with others.
I send you my blessings and love.
New here? Subscribe to The Pause.
This Week at The On Being Project
Our Latest Episode
On Being with Krista Tippett
“Shaping Grief With Language”
The poet who has wrested life-giving words out of grief and trauma — and teaches us to do the same.
Recommended Listening and Reading
Here are some of the conversations and poetry from our archive we’re turning to in light of George Floyd and all the victims of racial violence who came before him:
Read | “A Small Needful Fact” by Ross Gay
A beautiful poem honoring Eric Garner and other victims of police brutality.
Listen | “The Spiritual Work of Black Lives Matter” with Patrisse Cullors and Robert Ross
An intergenerational conversation between the Black Lives Matter co-founder and the physician philanthropist.
Listen | “More Beautiful” with Imani Perry
The scholar speaks powerfully about her experience raising black sons in America.
Listen | “Let’s Talk About Whiteness” with Eula Biss
The writer opens up an important conversation about whiteness, complacence, guilt, and privilege.
If you’re looking for more in-depth learning, here are some books by On Being guests and others for further reflection:
We’re looking for an Audience Editor to bring their voice and talents to executing a digital engagement strategy that serves our counter-culturally broad and growing community of listeners. The ideal candidate will have an instinctive feel for our unique voice and tone and a complementary voice of their own, know how to write inviting social copy, and have an applied understanding of what content to share on which platforms and why. Sound like you or someone you know? Please apply or share the job description! Applications due by Monday, June 8.
This Week in Haiku
This is the final installment of John Paul Lederach’s “unfolding poem” for the moment we’re in. Find all of the haiku at onbeing.org.