Should gender matter? And if so, how, and in what way? Through what lenses of empathy and understanding and open-mindedness should we consider gender, whether we are parents or childless, young or old -- but democratic citizens one and all, dedicated to creating a society in which all are treated equally and with dignity?
I explore such questions with Hayden Reid Fulfer, who is transgender and is in the process of transitioning. It is because of the passion, enthusiasm and determination of Hayden (whose name at the time was Cassie) that I was invited a few years ago to the campus of Monmouth College in Illinois, where my book 'Socrates Cafe' has been part of their interdisciplinary curriculum for over a decade.
Hayden -- a gifted writer and highly accomplished student who will graduate in May -- and I hit it off immediately upon meeting in person, and we have stayed in touch ever since.
He shares here his compelling and moving and at times heart-rending story. I hope all of you will listen in -- and share it with others.
Any adult who has had the privilege to take part, once or regularly, in the Constitution Cafe -- a Socratic scrutiny of our Supreme Law of the Land -- sponsored and organized by East Central Independent School District in San Antonio over the last five-plus years (inaugurated after one of their standout educators, Patty Stone-Reyes, and a group of students came to my initial Constitution Cafe in the city) has been transformed by the thoughtful, astute and discerning insights of the young people who take part in round-table inquiries with them, all participating as equals. In this latest Socrates Cafe Podcast tete-a-tete, Shylee Baertich, a senior at East Central High School, who has been part of Constitution Cafe since 8th grade, shares her rich perspective about why our younger citizens should be heeded and heard, as the equals (as our betters, in my view!) of us older folks. Listen in, and you'll almost surely come away convinced that she knows of what she speaks.
To be sure, some of our past presidents have had rocky relations with the press, to put it mildly -- especially those who have committed unconstitutional acts that could lead to their impeachment. But we are arguably in new territory today, what with a thin-skinned ultra-narcissistic president with a hair-trigger temperament (who in all likelihood has never taken a gander at the Constitution, much less the First Amendment) who considers all those in the media who do not write puff pieces about him "the enemy," who calls for new libel laws, and insists that any press with a critical acumen is presenting "fake news" -- and whose senior counsellor and press secretary exhort us to embrace "alternative facts" that paint the President and his acts, no matter ill-considered, in a wholly positive light. What to do? How should we as citizens, much less professional media types with First Amendment- protected and -endowed press protections, respond in these Orwellian times, with a President who himself -- in a classic case of pot-calling-the-kettle-blackism -- routinely and deliberately lies, demeans, mocks (even the disabled), gropes, and bullies? Mike Holtzclaw, accomplished journalist for the Newports News (Virginia) Daily Press (DailyPress.com), shares his discerning and penetrating two cent's worth on the matter in this latest round of Socratic philosophizing. Listen in.
It's time for "all hands on deck" if we're to keep our democracy from sinking. So says Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, the dynamic co-founder of the Moms Rising movement that has galvanized millions into action to build a nation where children, parents, and businesses thrive; and that puts an end once and for all to the endemic discrimination against mothers. Even so, forces are at work that seek to undermine our open society. What specific strategies are available and accessible to us all, so we all can pitch in? How must each of us rise, if we are to prevent our society from falling over a cliff? What must we do on our watch to insure that the generations to come can rise and flourish? Listen in as Kristin shares a world of keen insights. (And kudos to her dog Junie for offering her two barks' worth during the podcast
How do we best care for and heal ourselves, so we can better care for and help heal others in our orbit? Sadie Kaufmann, a leading nutritionist and holistic health counsellor, has quite a gripping personal and professional story to tell and a transcendent philosophy to share when it comes to personal health and healing. Listen in to our latest Socrates Cafe podcast. (And feel free to contact Sadie directly at: SadieNutricion@gmail.com )
What kinds of difference should be celebrated? How can you quit looking at others -- who may see the world and approach life and living (and philosophy and politics) in diametrically different ways than you do -- as 'the other.' How can we forge a greater sense of fellow feeling with all our fellow humans, regardless of their dispositions, stances, outlooks? I delve into such questions with highly esteemed and greatly admired kindred spirit Malka Kopell, co-founder of Civity (Civity.org), which is "a culture of deliberately engaging in relationships of respect and empathy with others who are different." Listen in.
How can design thinking help us, at any age and stage of life, to become more of a global citizen? That's the question I explored with Sanjili Gidwaney in this latest Socrates Cafe podcast. Sanjili is the Director of Design for Change USA (designforchange.us), which is part of a groundbreaking global initiative (DFC World) that enables and empowers young people in particular to create social change in their communities by incorporating design-thinking principles. Sanjili, who graduated from Harvard School of Education's graduate program, is part of a global initiative (DFC World). Listen in to how her personal and professional journey has shaped her powerful approach and perspective to becoming a global citizen through design thinking.
O'meun Johnson is one of the most impressive young men I've met in many a moon. When I had the opportunity to participate in a Socrates Cafe with him in Gainesille, Fl, thanks to Adrienne Thieke and the nonprofit Hands-On Gainesville, I was hoping for another chance to have an inquiry with him -- and was thrilled when he accepted my invitation to be a guest on my Socrates Cafe podcast. On the Skype account of O'meun, an 11-grader at Eastside High School, there is this quote attributed to Socrates: "The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." And so we delved into how to focus on building the new rather than fight the old. Listen in to O'meun's wise insights -- among others, why it's important to connect with nature, and how this helps us be more civil -- and stirring honesty. (My apologies for one recording glitch near the end of the exchange).
How do we make America again? How do we 'make America' -- bring its promise and practice into ever greater alignment -- again and again and again?
Chris explores this question with none other than the renowned Iraq-American artist, activist and entrepreneur Anas (Andy) Shallal, founder of the extraordinary gathering place Busboys and Poets (often frequented by Michelle Obama, among many others, across the political spectrum -- website at BusboysandPoets.com).
Anas, who came to the U.S. as a child and whose father was Ambassador of the Arab League, was inspired to call his restaurant/cafe/performance venues Busboys and Poets by our incomparable poet Langston Hughes. And at a 'Peace Ball,' Anas included in the program this poem -- 'Let America be America Again' -- by Hughes, which goes in part:
We the people must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain —
All, all the stretch of these great green states —
And make America again!
And so, rather than explore the (arguably) empty catchphrase 'Make America great again,' Anas and I instead plumb this far more timely and timeless question: How do we make America again?
Listen in to Anas' stirring insights.