Nearly twenty years ago, there was a tragic school shooting at Westfield Middle School in rural Jonesboro, Arkansas. On March 24, 1998, Andrew Golden, then 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, opened fire on their teachers and fellow students. Four students and a teacher were killed that day, and ten were injured, including sixth grade social studies teacher Lynette Thetford. Lynette was shot in the abdomen but survived, and went on to continue her labor of love as a teacher, though even after undergoing extensive rehabilitation she still suffers from the gunshot wound. The memories of that day remain quite vivid with Lynette, now 61 -- more so than ever when yet another school shooting occurs. I spoke today with Lynette. Listen in as she shares her wise words about what we can do to greatly reduce the odds that such violence occurs again.
David Palumbo-Liu, a respected Stanford University professor and scholar, is caught in the vortex of a Kafkesque predicament; he's accused by right-wing media outlets of being part of a 'terrorist group' because he helped organize the Campus Anti-Fascist Network (http://campusantifascistnetwork.com/) which in point of fact aims "to stem the rise of fascism" and "to stand with threatened members of our campus communities and oppose fascist mobilizations." David has received death threats since this orchestrated deliberate smear campaign, but amazingly maintains his equanimity. On our podcast, he thoughtfully explores with me how this nightmarish turn of events came to pass, what this says about the state and straits of our open society today, but also what we the people can do to staunch this latest rising tide of McCarthyism in an era in which social media can spread demonizing misinformation like wildfire. Listen in.
Steve Lambert, co-founder with Steve Duncombe of the Center for Artistic Activism (artisticactivism.org), believes that art and artistry have an unrivaled role to play in ending oppression, sparking greater equality, and making ours more a world in which we all can live with leisure and joy. We can quibble over the details of how we best accomplish this, but Steve believes that most people -- even those who might be considered 'the opposition' -- want to achieve this. But first, he maintains, we have to be able to imagine such a world. And that's where the Center for Artistic Activism comes in. Listen in (and also be sure to check out Steve's personal website at VisitSteve.com, as well as that of Stephen Duncombe at StephenDuncombe.com)
Steve Hornsby, one of my best and oldest friends (since at least 1975), is as young at heart, entrepreneurial and democratic in spirit, as they come. If you wanted to engage in great Socratic conversation, and absorb the best in family values, his home in Newport News, Virginia, was the go-to place in my youth. All of those in the Hornsby family I have had the privilege to know have met with unique forms of success (including their cousin, the musician Bruce Hornsby) over the years. As the founder and indefatigable organizer of the enormously successful College Prep Golf Tour (CollegePrepGolfTour.com), Steve has filtered his passion for golf and entrepreneurialism into a most unique venture that has changed so many young lives for the better -- and it all started because, as a dedicated dad first and foremost, he wanted to create something special for his amazingly talented son. Listen in.
Charles Massiatte, founder of New Scholars of Texas (scholarsoftexas.org), soon to be a graduate of Harvard Extension School, and an associate at Martin Capital Advisors, strives to mitigate socioeconomic equality and eradicate 'this huge yawning chasm between people who have way too much and people who don't have sufficient for human flourishing'. One essential way to do that, he believes, is to ask and explore questions (and in a Socratic way at that) that can serve to help close that gap. Listen in as Charles shares with us his varied yet entwined ideas and approaches (including Universal Basic Income, decentralized autonomous organization) for making ours more a world in which every one has a chance to contribute meaningfully and to realize her higher aspirations.
Hadi Alshaikhnasser is the founder and coordinator of a thriving Socrates Cafe in a place you might like least expect it to take hold -- Saihat, Saudi Arabia. He first became smitten with Socrates Cafe when, as a medical school student, he attended regularly the gathering in Montclair, New Jersey -- the very first one I ever established, way back in 1996, and meets weekly to this day. After then founding a group of his own in Omaha, Nebraska while on fellowship there, when Hadi returned to Saudi Arabia, he decided that Socrates Cafe should be a community staple there -- and that's precisely what has happened. Listen in as Hadi stirringly describes the wondrous kinds of transformations that happen as a result of inquiring regularly (and philosophically) the Socrates Cafe way. Hadi, for one, has come to be much more accepting of others, thanks to Socrates Cafe, because of the unparalleled opportunity it gives one to understand why others are coming from where they're coming from. 'We all probably want the same things, though maybe the way we go about getting those things is different,'" as he puts it.
How do we raise children who reflect the best of us -- and how can they, in a sense, help raise us so we continue to grow as humans? No one on this planet better to pose such a question to than Meghan Leahy, immensely popular and acclaimed essayist for the Washington Post's 'On Parenting' column, and a much in-demand parent coach (her website is https://www.mlparentcoach.com/ ). Meghan has a gift for shifting one's entire outlook on what parenting can be all about -- 'always knowing what I don't know,' as she put it' Socratically -- redirecting from one of 'issues' that one needs to tackle to simply looking at things with deeper lenses of understanding and empathy, and recognizing there are no easy answers. Listen in.
Odin Halvorson is the epitome of an enlightened generalist -- open, honest, impassioned, curious, imbued with social and politic conscience, civically involved and dedicated to bringing together diverse Americans. Odin started a thriving Democracy Cafe in Sebastopol, CA, as an antidote to today's polemical polarization. Listen in as he discusses the transformative potential of the kind of inquiry he embraces, one that requires immersive listening and that can enable us to connect with the very different needs and emotions of diverse others, without ever considering them 'the other.' Be sure to check out the website of Odin -- http://www.odinhalvorson.com/ -- a portal to the wonderful works and deeds of this exceptional young writer, filmmaker, philosopher, geek
Chris McGown, an accomplished consultant and Divisional Director of Communications and Donor Engagement for The Salvation Army’s Kentucky/Tennessee Division, was in the thick of things during Hurricane Harvey. Though the ongoing relief effort was exhausting, he felt blessed as he thought of his family safe and sound back home. His aim throughout his professional life has been to make the world a better place not just for his own children, but all children. Chris gently and compellingly challenges a lot of the received wisdom about charitable giving. With his ear to the ground like few others, you'll likely find, as I did, that Chris's insights ring true. Be sure also to check out the blog of this exceptional listener, thinker and doer: http://clmcgown.com/blog/blog/
No one I've had the privilege to know and collaborate with speaks more eloquently and passionately about our nation's successful and durable Constitution than Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center (ConstitutionCenter.org), where I had the high honor of serving as a Senior Educational Fellow. Listen in as Jeff, a preeminent scholar, educator, author, essayist and commentator on legal affairs, shares his perspective on what we all should know about our Constitution in particular, and the American system of governance in general -- and how we might best go about exploring, debating, discussing vital and pressing constitutional matters with one another today. Also be sure to check out Jeff's new book, out in March, on William Howard Taft, the only person to serve as both president and chief justice, that's part of the American Presidents Series.