Support for on being with Krista Tippett comes from the Fetzer Institute, helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world. Fatso's new study. What does spirituality mean to us? Reveals how spirituality informs our understanding of ourselves and each other and inspires us to take action for the common good. Explore these findings and more at spirituality study, Doug. I'm Krista Tippett.
Up next, my unedited conversation with the esteemed sociologist of emotion, Arlie Hochschild. There is, as always, a shorter produced version of this, wherever you found this podcast.
Hi, is that Arly? Yes, hi, Kristie. Yes, good to see you. Thank you so much for doing this. And I so apologize for the delays we had in. This is totally unusual. And I think it happened twice with you. I really apologize.
I no problem.
But but what we need to talk about has not diminished. So here we are.
You know, we have construction going on here in our in our studio. And so I like coming in the studio itself is very quiet, but there's just hammering as I walk in.
Oh. For an audio. Yeah. Program. It's not so good. Are you Chris.
Are, are they going to I mean I don't hear it so. Where are you? Right now. Are you talking to me? Yes. Yeah, I'm in Northgate Hall, which is in the basement of the journalism department at UC Berkeley.
OK, yeah, Berkeley, just three blocks from our home. Oh, what a what a wonderful place to live.
Um, I think we're pretty good here. I don't like to I don't want to start talking about anything substantive until we're really doing it. So, yeah, I think we're fine.
Good. And where are you, Chris. We're in Minneapolis. Okay. Yeah. Huh. Yeah. You'll, you'll understand this. I grew up in Oklahoma and, you know, kind of went far, far, far, far, far away.
And, um, and that's become more important to me in these recent years that, you know, that me and and then our studio is in Minneapolis. And it has been for a long time. And I thought across the years about how the show might have been served by being on one of the coasts and and in these last few years since 2016, I'm I'm so glad we're in the middle of the country, you know. Yes, it's really important.
And Life-Giving has. Yeah. Uh, so good.
Good. Yeah. Yeah.
Um, so you were the child of a foreign service officer, so you sound like you grew up all over the world.
Well, yes, to to some degree, yeah. Starting at age 12.
Yeah. It was a pivotal experience.
So your father was ambassador, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, Ghana and Tunisia.
Yeah. We don't need to go into his rank, I suppose, but. Yeah.
Yeah, but did you live in where those places you lived in? I lived in Israel and from age 12 to 14, very pivotal experience. And then a New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.
I went to the university there at Victoria University. So yeah, in New Zealand. And then my folks were in Ghana and I spent a summer going to Ghana. But by then I was in college and then they were in Tunisia. And I actually spent five months doing a study on the emancipation of Tunisian girls. So these French questionnaires as my second year of grad school at Berkeley.
So, yeah, so I was very fortunate really to get to experience all that.
Yeah, all of that, yeah.
Was there a religious or spiritual background to your childhood in your family or in those places? Yeah, yeah.
I would say there, there was um. And so are we starting. Yeah, yeah, you know, we're going yeah, yeah, OK, yeah. All right, OK.
Um, yeah, my parents were very religious Unitarians, so and so religious in the sense of it being a very important thing to go to church on Sunday. And my brother and I would. Kind of. Wrestle with each other and tickle in the back seat. Charles Hudson in Silver Spring, Maryland, and and go drive to All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. very important to my father especially. And I didn't feel particularly religious at that point.
And but if I look back on it, what the influence of that was, is that there's an important part of one's self to express and to look to develop. And that is for Unitarians. The message I took away is that it's a very big world and we have to learn to get to know and empathize with and yeah, people in radically different cultures.
And that that's a good thing to live in a big world. I think by the time I was 16, I had that message, but I felt something missing and I got interested in the Quakers who seemed to be much more.
OK, so what are we going to do about it?
You know, Unitarians were very talk, talk, talk, talk, talk of the Quakers looked like they were kind of interesting. They were doers.
And so I would say that that connection for me when I was in high school, very informal, I didn't become a formal Quaker or anything, but it led me to volunteer on weekends when I was in high school at something we called Neighborhood House on Tenth. And L Street was in the middle of the black area of Washington, D.C., was at a Dorothy Day.
Was that one of the Dorothy Day projects?
It was not, but it was exactly like, right, OK.
And two conscientious objectors were running it at the time. And I just thought the people I met there were extraordinary.
And I just loved the work. And we were painting houses and organizing a block party. I dealt with the kids and we were even killing rats.
And it was a very friendly neighborhood and yeah, so we could go out in the evening. There was no fear of crime. People were very hi, how you doing? You know, friendly.
This is all, you know. So it was all an amazing thing. But I think of it as part of my spiritual.
Well well then I think you've spoken about how living in that diplomatic world and I spent the 80s in Berlin, part of that time with the State Department.
So I know. Is that you? Oh, yeah.
So you became fascinated and, you know, also with the clarity of a child by the distinction between inner experience and outer appearance.
Yeah. And which which which it seems to me also it kind of is is what helped make you as a sociologist.
You know, to me to me, that also is I think there's so many different ways to define what spiritual is. But but one way to think about it is about interior life. And so, anyway, I just I see that there's interesting connections with you as a sociologist eventually.
Exactly. Exactly. You know, I had.
A very. A pivotal experience when I was 12 and I sort of make or break experience, you could say I had had a perfectly normal middle class life. My dad was worked for the State Department. My mother was a homemaker. That was my older brother and myself and everything. You know, nothing was testing my.
Yeah, my soul. Well, except my brother who tequila. But. Right.
But, uh. What happened is that when I was 12, my mother and father were stationed in Tel Aviv, Israel, and it was the first time I'd been out of the country and we arrived and it was extremely hot.
This big scene, they call it. And the my parents looked around for school. The only one that was English speaking was the Tabitha School of Jaffa and Jaffa, which was near Tel Aviv and was extremely strict. And Rose, when the teachers came and there were no books, we had to copy our lessons from the blackboard and it was one light dangling. I never it just was felt Dickensian to me in a way. And I didn't know anybody.
I felt ripped out of my childhood and on the playground it was very hot.
I had this hot total bread sandwich and everybody spoke a foreign language. I felt I I was a foot taller than everyone and dressed in these, you know, 1950s kind of Oxford shoes. But people were staring at me and I just felt estranged.
And finally at four o'clock, you know, Bell rang and I came home and my mother asked me, well, dear, how was school today?
And I couldn't speak. I just a torrent of tears. And so she's very empathic person. She listened.
And then she said, well, look, if you still don't like school after three weeks, we'll send you home to grandma and grandpa and passed.
And I really cried. You know, those are your options. No, you go halfway across the world away from my mother and father. That was so I felt trapped. This was kind of make or break, you know. So the next day I went back to school.
I thought, OK, see if I can change my shoes. And I don't know.
But the kids were friendly, you know, and they I remember this one girl, 12 year old girls, Spartz kind of tapped me on the shoulder and to play tag, you know, I, I didn't understand that.
And she smiled and she tapped my shoulder again. Oh, it's tag. OK, you know, I can play tag.
So in that wordless way I finally, you know, kind of reached out and at the end of two years, you know, when you're 12 and 13, you do make fast friends. Yeah, I had it very fast. Kind of, you know, I think that's my. Oh, cell phone.
OK, maybe. Yeah, but just if you can just mute it. That's great. Yeah.
Let me. OK, yes, yeah, so I mean, that story, obviously. You know, telling it now, there are seeds in there of what you do, what you do in the world now, what you what you want to help other you help other people, the experience you want other people to have.
And, you know, so you are you are known within society as the founder of the sociology of emotion. And I just want to kind of summarize and you tell me if I get this wrong, that but it feels important. I don't want to really dive deep into that. But that so that the backdrop of in terms of how we analyze and address political and social dynamics, and especially in a time of discord like this. Yes. Where where each side finds the other sort, where the sides become more defined and and and they all everybody seems incomprehensible to everybody else.
And so, you know, you describe in the book kind of you know, there's there's that there are ways of thinking about how people are being manipulated or bought. There are ways of analyzing how people may are being misled. And then and then there are ways of us describing, you know, how we're just different and that there are distinct cultural values, kind of like the John Jonathan Haidt way of analyzing the ways that we're different. And you've said that for you, and especially as you watch this last few years unfold and in American and now global life, like what is missing for you in all of this?
While all of these ways of analyzing are useful, what's missing is an acknowledgement of the reality of emotion in politics.
Right. And empathy and empathy. Right. You know, the idea of emotion being a basic and foundational to social and political life is not new. I mean, Max Faber talked to that first and and Emile Durkheim. So that's not new.
But I found that this important foundational reality of our feelings, we didn't have a language, a way of conceptualizing it that was that was useful.
And so you can just say, oh, and that's number one, a missing language.
Number two is a missing understanding of emotion in common discourse. Certainly three decades ago, the idea was that either you were thinking or or you were feeling all right.
Right. So when you were rational, you had no emotion, you drained out or when you were emotional, there was no thinking to it. Yeah.
And so I thought there's something wrong about that, because when you're emotional, you you are seeing the world in a particular way and you have thoughts about the way you see it. You know, you are thinking.
And when you're rational, I mean, take the stock exchange. Your people are making rational decisions about buy, sell, buy, sell stocks on the stock exchange.
They're excited, they're elated, they're depressed, they're emotional.
So these two are intertwined in ways we have not carefully understood. So, yes, it led me to become extremely interested in emotion, in managing emotions, evoking emotions and suppressing emotions in daily life and in work. So I came to study emotional labor. I just the labor of feeling right, right. Thing for the job and from which you can become estranged. It led me to be interested in what I called feeling rules. Yes, that's it.
I mean, that's a phrase that you that that is really associated with you. So, yeah. What what do you mean what does that phrase what's in that phrase for you?
Well, when you're at a party you should feel happy to see your friends.
You should feel elated. What if you feel depressed, you know, or if you're at a funeral and you're supposed to be sad, feel sad.
But in fact, that's what you feel.
In other words, you can be out of phase with the conventions of feeling and that when you think about what it is to be a human being, there is an entire. Your system of conventions that lay on feeling is a right and wrong, and this much is too much, too little ways understandings about feeling that we're not. Usually attuned to yeah, and cultures differ in what feelings they recognize, of course.
Yes, yes, it is a different it's like keys on a piano, you know, they're different octaves, stretches and notes that get recognized as in music across cultures. So I got interested in that.
Yeah. And even across I mean, it's not even I mean, of course we can all think of national examples of that, but but even like within the United States, I mean, the upper Midwest or the Deep South or California, those are different.
Or New England. I mean. So it feels like. So Oklahoma. Oklahoma. Yeah, the west. Yeah. I mean, you're shining a light. I think that's so important. Yes. It that we don't have a language for it, but that also especially in the late 20th century, I think we don't we don't know how to take emotion seriously.
When, when I mean of course now we're kind of coming around to this specter, that emotion. But you know that well, that we kind of have to take a suspect feel like now we also it's very clear that we don't have that. We don't know how to do that or have a serious deliberation and reckoning and addressing things in that sense.
And what you also but I think this is such an important statement you make that, you know, that runs all the way through work, that also we we think the other side is being emotional and we are not.
And that the really important realization is that we are all that this is a piece of how we are all inhabiting the moment, right?
That's right. Exactly. Yeah. And that it's social, right. You that's one of your big points that that this line between our private emotional lives and social realities is is like acknowledging that is just being reality based. It's kind of like being in the world as it is and not as we fantasize it should be. Right, right in my latest book, Strangers in their Own Land of Anger and Mourning on the American Right. I got very interested in something I call deep story.
Yeah. Which is a way of thinking about emotion. I live and long taught sociology at Berkeley in California, which is a blue state, as you know, blue town, I think of her dad.
And in. 2011, I realized that already the country was falling apart, there were increasing divide between Democrats, Republicans left, right, and that I didn't understand those on the right and that I was in a bubble. My neighbors, you know, students and so on, also were in a bubble. And that we're all in both in electronic bubbles and media bubbles and geographic bubbles coats one side, the Midwest and South on the other.
So I determined to get out of my bubble and come to know people that were as far right as Berkeley, California, was after it, and to try and climb what I called an empathy wall to permit myself a great deal of curiosity. About the experiences and viewpoints of people that I knew I would have differences with and, you know, people have said and it turned out to be an extraordinary experience. It took me five years of really getting to know people, asking, you know, where they were born, where their school was, what row they sat in in school, what their favorite thing to do was where their ancestors were buried and in the course of going fishing with them and of course, really getting to know them.
I came up with this idea of a deep story as a way of getting to emotion.
So so that wasn't a phrase you'd use before that. The deep story know the narrative as felt, right? That's such an important so.
So how so? How would you start to tell, you know, someone who was not how would you start to tell the deep story of our time as you as you as you inhabited it in that well, that experience what I.
What I came to feel and realize is that both the left and the right have different deep stories. So what is a deep story? A deep story is a what you feel about a highly salient situation that's very important to you. You take facts out of the deep story. You take moral precepts out of the deep story. It's just what feels true. And I think we all have deep stories, whatever our politics, but that we're not a fully aware of them, that they're dreamlike and are told through metaphor.
So what I did was listen for a very, you know, a number of years really getting to know people, of course, of a series of visits.
And then I kind of distilled down what the premises were from the things I was hearing people say, and then sort a connection between those premises and a metaphor that seemed to express them. And the metaphor for the right wing deep story that I described in strangers is that you're waiting in line for the American dream that you feel you very much deserve. It's like waiting in a pilgrimage and the light line isn't moving and has your feet are tired. You feel you are properly deserving of this reward.
That's ahead. And the idea is you don't begrudge anyone. Right? Right. OK, this in this right deep story, don't begrudge anyone. You're not a hateful person. But you see then the second moment of the right wing deep story, somebody cutting head of you may think, well, gee, who's that?
Well, that is a black or a woman who, through affirmative federally mandated affirmative action programs, finally has given access to jobs that used to be reserved for whites and men.
Yeah. And then you see undocumented workers. There seemed to you to be cutting out up, you know, why are they getting special treatment and then refugees? Why are they getting special treatment?
I ended up doing this research in around southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles at which is a highly it's an oil center of the petrochemical industry, highly polluted water and land.
And so the Louisiana brown pelican, which became extinct, had to be reinstated.
And that was the state's first correctly. That was the state. Exactly. Yeah.
And it seems to be waddling up and cutting in line.
Many people told me, oh, the liberals put animals ahead of people, you know, must be anonymised.
So in another moment of the right deep story, the president of the country, Barack Obama, who should be tending fairly to all waiters in line, seems to be waving to the line cutters. And and he in fact, is he a line cutter?
The idea, yes.
How did his mother she was a single mother, not a rich woman, afford a Harvard education, a Columbia education, something fishy. That that was the thought there. And no idea of universities having scholarships for brilliant students and. So in a final moment of the right wing, deep story. Someone from the coasts, someone highly educated, someone from that so-called elite turns around. And they're really close to the prize or they have the prize, but they turn around, look at the other who are waiting in line and said, oh, you backward southern, ill educated.
Yeah, racist, redneck, sexist, homophobic. Right.
And then that is the estranging thing to that insult. And then they felt like strangers in their own land. Wait a minute. You know, here I am waiting in line. So a sense of justification is implied in this metaphor.
So I told this story and then I went back to the people that I had come to know and said, does this ring a bell?
You mean back back at Berkeley and back in the classroom? No, no. Back in oh. When you had this story to the people living.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. So, yeah. And they would say one man told me I, I live your metaphore.
Another one said, you read my mind.
Another one said, no, you have it wrong that the people are waiting in line or paying for the line cuts. And so that's why we're enraged.
And others said, oh, look, we leave that line, we secede. You know, we're getting another leader. Yeah.
So they gave different candidates. Yeah. But you can see it's my effort to get at feeling. Yeah. And how detached it can become from facts.
Yes. And it's something I think a lot about. And to me this comes through in um you talking about the deep story because in that and as you said, the fact that facts and moral precepts arise out of the deep story and we kind of have this idealized and this is such a big anguish right now. Right.
Like, oh, actually, we take them we take them out of the story and move them from it. Right. What about facts? And it's not about moral rights either.
And and so that so that in in in describing that you're also you're also saying that, you know, cutting against a kind of a story we tell ourselves about facts culturally, which is that somehow they are these objective, true things.
I mean, you're really getting at the difference between facts and truth and there can obviously be a connection. But truth is much more complicated than facts.
It's yes, it's a felt truth and body. When I went back and forth between Berkeley and like the people I came to know and really respect in the other world of the south southwest Louisiana, I came to to realize that there were different truths, no different truths, truth, of course.
Fox News reaffirmed theirs and The New York Times and NPR reaffirmed Berkeley's.
And so there are facts, I believe, in the reality. Yes, yes. I have a whole appendix. Yeah. That, in fact, you know, looks at for example, in the appendix, I, I look at kind of common impressions and a one was that, oh, a lot of people work for the federal government. You know, third of employees, you know, something like 34 percent work for the federal government.
Well, I went back and looked it up at one point, nine percent of all employed people work for the federal government.
And even if you add state workers, hourly workers, public workers in the hospitals and teachers only comes up to, I think, eighteen.
So, yeah, I mean, yeah, that the deep story in a way and again, we all have a deep story. It repels certain facts that don't fit it.
Yeah. And it invites other facts that do.
And we we have to acknowledge that, I mean to to really get down with one another and respectfully kind of try and cross the empathy wall across the partisan divide.
Yeah. You in a strangers in their own land take up what you call a keyhole issue to to kind of go deep into what are the dynamics that collect around a specific subject and to really understand the dynamics.
And you talk about the great paradox and. And it was it's about our relationship with the natural world, which is such such a central issue of our time. Right. And it's something we have to civilization, a civilization we reckon with together. And you you know, you point at this dynamic that in the part of the country you're in, there is. There is. Well, first of all, an abundant and beautiful natural environment and great pollution and great resistance to regulating polluters.
And I think that's such I mean, just to start out, I you know what I see and that's such an example of where people from the outside of all the dynamics that go into that would say it's just obvious.
You know, they might even say it's obvious that that's ignorant or it's obvious that that's, you know. Right. Like, people are not adding up the facts like facts or numbers. And one plus one equals two. And there's no other answer you can come to. So.
Yeah. And so, yeah, let's go into that. How what you started to see. Yeah. You know, just to back up about the great paradox.
That is, again, that across the country.
It is the red states that are the poorer states, the states with the most disrupted families that are the worst education and health care, who have the highest more disease and kind of lowest life expectancy, are also the states that receive more money from the federal government in grants than they give to it in tax dollars and resist the federal government and for the environment. This keyhole issue, you have the paradox that it is the red states who, which in general suffer greater degree of exposure to hazardous waste are also the states that think we've carried environmentalism too far and over worry it and that we don't actually need government in regulating polluters.
So that's the that's the the keyhole paradox, as you're saying, and.
But, you know, there's there's a background, I think, right, right, partly the I think the people I came to know in Louisiana felt that the federal government was a bigger, badder.
Version of local government, and the truth is that in the state of Louisiana, the local government, that it's the state government has not protected people from pollution.
OK, and so there I didn't know this going in, but I learned it that actually people felt disappointed that the regulators were giving rights to drill wells and inject hazardous waste fairly near neighborhoods and to pollute public waters, giving out permits like candies.
Because one man told me, you know, there's a there's I just, you know, I want to go on.
But there's this passage in in the book that I and strangers in their own land that I, I just this just is an example of this. And maybe this is a person you're talking about. You know, Harold, someone in the state always seems to come down on the little guy he knows. This is take this by you. If you're motorboat leaks a little gas into the water, the warden or write you up. But if companies leak thousands of gallons of it and kill all the life here, the state lets them go.
And I don't know that example hits home.
It may. I can see that. Yes.
Like the big the big companies are so rich and powerful that they basically have bought the legislature, not the words that those industrialists are the the the state legislators.
And and so, in a way, the companies have outsourced the moral dirty work to the state.
So they say, OK, you know, let's let's get a legislature that goes along with our development. Let's talk jobs, jobs, jobs. And like let's talk about let's get the people with us by talking up jobs. But in fact, these are highly automated plants, the good jobs machines. Now, do you know many more jobs are, you know, being a flagger for you can get, I think, sixteen dollars an hour, seventeen or, you know, working construction.
But those are temporary jobs. So the company is saying, oh, jobs, jobs, jobs. So.
We don't want to be regulated by the big bad federal or by the state government, and so the companies with the money that the state gives them in this, I think it was one point six billion dollars that was in the last five years in Louisiana, offered to companies to come in with that public money that came from taxes.
They then can make donations to the Audubon Society or for new football uniforms for LSU games.
You know, they're looking good and setting up third grade classes in chemistry.
Meanwhile, state officials, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is being very weak and giving out permits. As as one of the people I interviewed said like candy. So the state looks terrible. The company looks good. It's kind of emotional, actual manipulation, you can say, to get you to feel like the company is your friend and feel like the state is your enemy.
Yeah. And there's you also describe this interesting dynamic that. That, again, is nuanced. It's not something that would be obvious to anybody. I mean, a lot of this is true. But for example, you. You have this chapter called the remembers, and there's something where you this there's this amazing sentence about a sociological understanding, that memory just in general is an indirect expansion of power.
Yeah, there's I'm just going to read a bit of this because it's wonderful writing and it kind of gets this point. You said many workers in the petrochemical plants were conservative Republicans and avid hunters and fishers who felt caught in a terrible bind. They loved their magnificent wilderness. They remembered it from childhood. They knew and respected as sportsmen, but their jobs were in industries that polluted, often illegally, this same wilderness. They had children to take care of and felt wary of supporting any environmental movement or federal government action that might jeopardize them.
Yeah, and, you know, the basic feeling around town was that one shouldn't get too hung up on the environment, feel too nostalgic for cleaner times or be too retro.
And again, you get these you're feeling rules.
That wasn't what residents were supposed to feel. That's because of fracking. Boom was on and many new industries were on their way to Lake Charles to process the natural gas. It freed from the cracked earth. And then you say so ironically, strangely, embarrassingly, the memory of Southern environmental glory fell in part to respectful clerks in federal offices and to northern environmentalists.
There's so much complexity there.
Yeah, isn't that break your heart?
Yeah, it does. Mine, yes. Oh yes. Yeah. Because the people I came to know are know more about the environment. They know, you know, which fish are in what area where you said the crab pots where you know what ducks you can shoot at. What period of, of the year they love their land. And yet and yet they're they're they're not I mean, people working in the plants. And I talked to a woman who said, you know, I asked, do you talk to your neighbors about the environment?
She said, you know, our neighbors work in the plants and I don't want to hurt their feelings. I don't want them to feel accused. Yeah.
You know, as if the people working in the plants would take on the guilt. Right. Or is the one that goes along.
It's not a person, you know, poor person, you know, mean it's not their personal guilt. It's a company policy. And it's the absence of, you know, regulation here, the rules here.
Right. You know, like California has very strict rules. We enjoy a cleaner environment as a result. It's that that level, the guilt. It's not a personal one. Right.
So that was very poignant and sweet of her to be mindful that, you know, an operator might feel accused.
Yes. And again, like this whole thing. Yes, it does. Well, and what you are shining a light on is the human complexity here. And we may think it does make things messy. Right? It it defies I mean, we still try to do it, but it defies the way we want to divide the world into issues and have an up or down and take a vote.
And and, um, but again, I you know, I just feel like you are for this is saying let's let's deal with reality. And not wishful thinking. And let's talk about reality and not wishful thinking by having a civil, respectful public conversation. Yeah, you know, where nobody is is bullying conversationally. Anybody else, you know, coming together to see if there can be common ground on the environment. And there can be I think some people I came to know were very interested and very approving of renewables.
In fact, there's something called the Green Tea Movement that is Tea Party that really all for renewables.
Yeah, yeah. So there's more. But we're not even finding that common ground because we weren't even respectfully reaching out to look for it.
Right. We're in our bubble still. In fact, I think that problem remains with us and especially on the left.
I think there's a kind of a rigid sort of inward turning.
I would say. I find it very sad. I think we have to reach out. I'm looking for potential common ground.
You know, one of the things I feel you raise up is, for example, this is something, you know, so it's not only that we insist on our facts as the the facts that matter and need to, you know, matter in a pure way.
But we want to use our words. And I feel like this is especially acute with it, with our reckoning, with the natural world, with the environment. The language of climate change is a lightning rod. You know, you can argue that it shouldn't be. You can certainly argue that it shouldn't be. But there it is.
And I feel like you tell a lot of stories, including one with your son, David, who you brought together with Mike Shaffer or chef who. Yes. You befriended down there. And one of the things I saw a rise up as they spoke coming from very different worlds was, you know, your son saying something about and this would contribute to this would diminish climate change. And and the mike who's from Louisiana, you know, he he wanted he wanted to use the language of energy independence and free, free entrepreneurs.
And yet it was the same thing and it would achieve the same goals.
Right. Right. You know, I came to think that one way we can talk across the divide is to learn how to stretch symbols, not to avoid and neglect the symbol of the person on the other side, but to take that symbol seriously and apply it to something the person you're talking to is not applying to. For example. Yeah, I followed around an extraordinary man named General Russell Honore Ray. He was the hero who rescued the victims of Katrina back in 05.
And he's become an ardent environmentalist now. And he was talking. To a group of businessmen in Lake Charles, and their symbol was freedom, you know, freedom to invest money, freedom to get rich, freedom from onerous government regulation, freedom. And they were against regulations right by our government state. And so he gets up there and he said, well, you know, I woke up this morning and I looked out at Lake Charles and I saw a man in a boat and he had his fishing line out and he had his bucket ready.
But, you know, that man is not free to lift out an uncontaminated fish. I'm OK. And I thought, yeah, genius.
And I followed him around just to see how he did this thing of symbol stretching, taking freedom. Yes, of course. Freedom's great. We're all for freedom.
But don't we want to be free to enjoy a clean body of water, public water?
And isn't that freedom to freedom from. So he didn't do it by putting them down or bullying them.
He he started with where they were, as any mediator does. Right.
Well, he also honored he honored the complexity of the world as they live it and see it and have understood it, how it's come to them. That's right.
We all need that. We all need that. Right. We all to craved that. We do.
You know, the other thing you were just saying that some symbols are art too hot. We have to be respectful. Yeah. Of the other person symbols. I learned that in a in a funny way by being a problem myself. You know, I was with Joan Blades, who was the co-founder of MoveOn. Yes, I know.
Joan and Move and the living room conversations you have. That's right. Yeah.
Well, I invited a person I'd written about in the book, Sharon Galatia, to she and her children to visit us in Berkeley. We had a wonderful visit and during it we did a living room conversation, got left together with right. Someone named John Gables was on the right. And to talk about can we come to some common ground on getting a clean environment. So we're we're sitting down. We're devoted to this. And, you know, it was kind of warm, respectful atmosphere.
And then someone on the right said, well, what we really need is a world that's completely let's the the the market do let it be really the only mechanism. And like in the the vision of Milton Friedman. Well, I happen to know the work of Milton Friedman.
And it I think if you turn this all over to the market, which is already happened in Louisiana, you know, the state is ineffective, that it's a disaster for these very good people. So I. Before I had my alarm system back on, I, I kind of gave a little speech there, OK, and you turned into a little bit of an encyclopedia.
It was not in the spirit that had been developed. So and. My interlocutor is Tony Cable said, oh, I'm sorry, I know that's one of your symbols. Oh, I learned a lot. I was the problem there.
I, I, you know, I got out of Phase II and started lecturing.
He said, yeah, I mean, absolutely wrong. And I but I learned a lot and I said, you know, thank you. I realize I did lose it there.
And but it's because I've come to care about these people and I'm sorry for the fix they're in. Yeah.
And but I thank you for being mindful of my simple. I wasn't mindful of it myself.
So what do you think we need to learn to do is kind of respect the symbols people have and move them, apply them further than the person you're talking to might do and also avoid or be mindful of the power of symbol.
Um, as I myself was not.
Those two things are what any mediator knows to do. And I think we all in this country now need to learn the arts of mediation.
Yes. And and part of that is, I mean, you know, we started out speaking about your your work in sociology and your focus on the sociology of emotion and and taking emotion seriously, which I really it's hard for me to imagine anybody could argue that emotion does, in fact, seriously matter in politics now.
But but I you know, and then there's a there's a an obvious extension of that here, which is that we need emotional intelligence. All right. I mean, that's what mediation do. And we need to say this is an this is as important as all of our other forms of intelligence that we that wield.
Yes. Yes. That we will very confidently and boldly. Yes.
You could say that much of my work on nine books now has been an effort one way or another to honor and try and get the world to honor the importance of emotional intelligence, and especially as used by service workers, you know, caregivers, child care workers, elder care workers who anybody in the service industry is using emotional intelligence.
And it matters enormously that we all learn to do it well and don't sneer at it.
But in fact, see that really the the crust of society is very thin, you know, and and it needs to be kind of it needs water and sun and nurture is so that it's not as brittle as it has now become in America.
Yeah, our life together needs caregiving. Yes.
And yeah, also and I feel that this is so so I feel that we actually possess more intelligence about how to be in relationship across where differences present and where true misunderstanding is that we have a lot of intelligence about that in our families. Yes, we do. And you know, you have you have all these relationships like you have.
Sally and Shirley are devoted to a friend, to friends who you spend a lot of time with and write about and in Louisiana and, you know, on the two sides of our social chasms. And everyone has that person now. Everybody has the brother in law.
Right. Sure. Who they don't stop loving. That's right. That's right. And, you know, when I set out to know on this odyssey, people would I got two kinds of responses, which were very interesting.
One was, oh, I couldn't do that. I'd be so mad. I know those people are wrong. And the other one was, oh, you're going where you're going in. And me.
Oh, they wouldn't say it. But the kind of facial expression.
Well, maybe you're pretty right yourself. In other words, you're going to an enclave in which you will be embraced as similar. What was missing from those two responses was the idea that you can be exactly who you are. Yeah. And take your alarm system off climbing up the wall and get to know people on the other side of it and. I don't and then I got oh, you must be especially empathic. No, not at all. The in fact, you know, I think we're all actually extremely good at it.
The only thing is we don't apply that skill, that knowledge to getting to know the other.
And whether we define as, uh.
That's the only thing different I did, yeah, I noticed that because I looked at and we had a number of interviews that were done, you know, interviews you gave and have given across your and I notice that a great number of especially, let's say, the progressive interviewers they like, they remark with great astonishment on your kindness.
Right. I kind of like how could you be so kind? And it and in a way, it kind of models kind of the rut we're in right there that might want to kind fool.
Right. Right, right, right. You do it. Somebody said, though, after Charlottesville, now that we've seen that you talk to these people.
Well, I went back and talked about Charlottesville with them and they said, look, everybody should stay at home where is appalled by is anybody else.
And I said, a friend of mine, a colleague in the social department at Berkeley, suggested, well, let's don't take the statue of Robert E. Lee down, put another statue beside it of, let's say, r, b wells and tell history as having two sides, you know, ah, or Frederick Douglass know.
And they nodded their head. They hadn't thought about that. Well, who would pay for the second statue.
He came up. Right. But you know, they didn't say, oh no.
You know, I'm one of them said look just get rid of all the statues, you know, just cause problems.
So there were a variety of responses to this, but there was a conversation, right? Um, yeah.
Yeah. And and to me, another great paradox. Right. Because you talked about the great paradox of kind of people being opposed to.
Two things that actually would what would be might be helpful, but the paradox of engaging difference, which is you describe right, is, you know, you said it does it's not about going in and saying, change my mind.
I want to be a Republican. Right. Or I want to join the Tea Party or for or expecting them to because they engage with you say, you know, I want to I want to be at Berkeley. Why didn't. So you didn't change your politics. But what you said and I think this is true and I know you've seen as a sociologist across all kinds of like meaningful encounter with different generally doesn't change minds. But you said it enlarged me as a human being.
Right. It did. It did. And. To be able to imagine myself into a different heart. One man told me, you know, look, we have a. Similar minds, and we have similar hearts, but we have different souls.
I thought that was so interesting. And so I said to him, thank you for saying that. Would you be a co sociologist with me and figure out how the souls are different?
And he looked at me scratch.
I said, well, I'm not sure what.
I know what you mean, what you're like, oh, yeah. You know, this empathy thing, another wonderful encounter was with gospel singer who was sitting across the table at a meeting of Republican women of southwest Louisiana.
And she said, Oh, I love Rush Limbaugh. You know, the conservative radio commentator, yeah, well, I first thought, oh, my goodness, uh.
And then I thought. Wonderful. I here's here's a chance for me to get larger here, so I said to her, could we meet a sometime this week for some sweet teas? And you can explain what you why you love Rush Limbaugh. And she said, yes, sure.
So the next day we're meeting for sweet teas. And she explains, I love Rush Limbaugh because he hates feminazi.
So I thought, oh, my goodness. So I ask her, well, what is a feminazi?
Well, it's it's a feminist who, you know, doesn't like children, doesn't know once meant coke. And she goes on and then she goes on to environmental wackos, you know, it's people that want to regulate us to death and. After I'm asking her, she stops me and says, you've told me that you come from, you know, the other side. Is it hard for you to listen to me? And I told her, actually, it's not hard at all.
I have my alarm system off. And you were I'm learning about you and you are doing me such a big favor to share your thoughts. And I can't I grateful I am. And then she says. Take your alarm system off. I do that, too. She says, I do it with my kids. I do not parishioners.
Right. And I thought, you know, OK, well, let's start with that, you know. Yeah. Little common ground.
Yeah. I mean, I wanted to ask you to say a little bit more, but right. When you you can put we in fact do that all the time because I was going to say. What do you mean when you when we said, you know, do is it a moment where you say, OK, my butt?
But actually we it's a habit we have. And in the other hand, we do it at work.
Right, because you can't just blurt out how you really feel about what someone said at every moment.
Oh, no, there are rules about that. There should be. It's kind of the ground rules of social. Interesting. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. One thing I found get really better at it than than we are.
So that's a great invitation. Yes. Doesn't mean that you're capitulating. See, that's the misunderstanding I think. Yeah. Especially on the left.
Oh. If you listen to them, that means you've been taken over.
Not at all. No, not at all. It just means being emotionally intelligent.
You've developed a way of of talking like about climate change.
I think there would be a way using some of this symbol stretching that Russel Honoré has used it so effectively and, you know, speaking respectfully.
Yeah. Actually, that is the fundamental flaw of social interaction when you Barellan in there and ignore the competence and identity.
Just appreciate it. You do. Yeah. It's just counterproductive. It is counterproductive.
And I think I you know, I said to you at the beginning that I grew up in in a small town in Oklahoma, and I, I, I haven't you know, I lived in other places the rest of my life, but. The senior, you know, the sneer at the tone of sneer that is behind in so many of the media that I like. Right. That that that I honor.
And yet, yes, that has become. And then the tone of sneer. Which I think is really on, you know, I don't think I think it's unconscious, which makes it more, which makes it the effect worse, because then it leads to, you know, I sometimes want to say and I think certainly when something like climate change comes up and the way people talk down to. You know, any any point, right, that might be made, I sometimes want to say, you know, do you want to do is the do you do you want to be right in every moment, you know, or do you want to be part of the larger healing?
That's right, and there's always this. That's right, adding Dantin with words and sentences and perspective, I know we all need to be makers.
If you want to make a social contribution and help build a public conversation about the big issues of the day and order to do that, you have to really be good at an emotional attachment.
You know, make it its contribution to the larger whole right to be really good at that.
One of the poignant things I felt throughout the strangers in their own land and this time you've spent in Louisiana is, yes, a very different religious culture to tend to yours and to the culture in Berkeley, California.
It's a Bible Belt, right, and it's a very important part of the American culture. California, yeah. Yeah, I know there are, but right. It's Bible Belt culture. And, you know, one of the things you talked about is as you're with people.
Who? You know, I think I think really again and again, you find that if you use emotional intelligence, you can you can always have this conversation, you can engage at least. What are the questions here, at least? What are the challenges with people who come at it from a very different story?
And one of the things you found, which I think is an interesting critique for, you know, the more the side that considers itself to be enlightened is that while that that regulation that a lot of the things are coming at people as what needs to be done, in fact, is not about repairing like not about how do we get whole I mean, you said, you know, the question of how could repairs be made? A lot of people find, you know, that their Bibles are more useful in that sense than the government.
So that's a good question. OK, what has the government done for you?
Let's you know, maybe they have a point. Maybe it hasn't lived up to its promise or maybe it's getting blamed for things it didn't do. OK, let's figure that out. Right. Respectful public conversation about just that.
Is the the government kind of. In fact, letting people down, you know, are they expecting too much of it? What's the record? Oh, let's let's talk about that and the specifics. Yeah.
And I just felt that you. You really became attuned to this did this idea that is very much out there now that it's like jobs versus the environment, and there's this point where you say maybe I'd been so busy listening to the unsung tune about cleaning up pollution that I wasn't hearing the loud and clear song about jobs. I think you certainly got I mean, you certainly we, you know, attended to that real concern. But you also as you as you attended to that, you know, you kind of started saying, but who's who's asking the question if this is really an either or that that's the conversation that, in fact is there to have that we could get to if we could get through all this, that we can't talk to each other.
That's right, that's right, and you're talking to people that love the water, you know, love to fish and love to hunt, so, you know, you can can start with that, OK?
They they want clean water clean. They remember when it was a clean want it back.
So, you know, there's the issue of a clean environment. There's the issue also of global warming, which they reject.
They think it's it's made up a problem. That's an excuse to expand government control.
So if you were to sit down with someone and want to talk about global warming and say, you know what, the scientists are really finding there's some warming and that it's. Leading to a volatility that's not been there before and we're all victims of it. Let's see if we can talk about this. Interesting, the people that I met, many of them worked for these large companies and Phillips 66, Sasol, Exxon.
And if you read the CEO speeches and the websites of these very large petrochemical plants, the leaders of these companies actually acknowledge a climate change and they're actually many of them diversifying, in fact.
So what's missing? I think a real potential for a conversation is to say, look, you're working for that company and the CEO of that company that I know. You love the company. You love the job.
How did the company that you're working and thinks it is a problem, you know, so.
Where do we where do we take it from there? Yeah, there's you know, there's a there's a paragraph in your book where you where you just list you say even among the most ardent and extreme or I think maybe this was another interview you gave. You said even among the most ardent and extreme people you met over five years of research, you found specific issues on which there was potential for coalition safeguarding children on the Internet, reducing prison populations for nonviolent offenders, protecting against commercialization of the genome, pushing for good jobs, rebuilding our rail system, roads and bridges and our social infrastructure.
That is so interesting to think about.
What have we started doing? What we could start talking about tomorrow?
Right. Right. Well, we're not hanging fruit, right? Yeah.
Yeah, that's right. That's right. And do it in the in the spirit we've been talking about. Yeah.
Mm hmm. You, you and ins strangers in their own land. You near the end you say you write a letter to a friend on the liberal left.
You write a letter to Louisiana Friends on the arts.
You'd say, you know, you imagine if I if I had a right to my friends in Louisiana on the right or the right to a liberal friend.
I mean, there was a sentence in in your letter to your friends on the liberal left. And I just again, it's humanizing and it's provocative in a human way. Consider the possibility that in their situation, you might end up closer to their perspective. Yes. That's right. Yeah, well, that's that's it. I think I think that's true, that we are products of our own experience.
Oh, and what if you grew up in a family and so many said, oh, we were poor, but we didn't know it had a great childhood, but we were poor, didn't know it?
Yeah, OK. What if that had been your experience and what if your dad's job and how much he earned was the central fact of your life? No.
And what if it was a blue collar job, but you felt put down for doing that blue collar job?
No, I think there's something actually missing in the entire vocabulary we have for talking about social class.
Yeah, because I didn't go just to another region or to people with different political views. I went to a different social class and there is a lot of sneering on the left at the blue collar class that that language Uria said, look, we're the daily workers. We're climbing the telephone pole to repair your telephone wire or repaving roads. Where who are you, you know, to to put that down. And there's a lot of humble pie to eat here.
And I think it's a problem. I didn't know when I set out this that I would come back and be as critical of a little cocoon.
I've long been in here as I am and a kind of you know, it's not only a. A contempt that I feel is so up that really bothers me now whenever I hear it or see it, and that is buried to some degree, but there's a kind of reluctance to to reach out. It's as if on the left there's a lot of good political will, but it's gotten curled up in onto itself and become a kind of a self-monitoring program.
Oh, you said this wrong. Instead of reaching out to build coalitions, we're a big country in ruins like us.
Everyone's like them.
What we need our sturdy coalitions.
And I think labor unions, when the labor movement was at its height, what are we down to nine percent in the public sector or the private sector anyway, when labor movement was much larger?
And there there was a way that people of different colors and classes got together. And when you had a compulsory draft.
Different colors and and classes got together. A natural way is an experience. Yeah. Yeah. Public schools have done this, but we're down on those those crossover connective institutions. I think we need to build another one. I would like to see a civil service, you know, one year required of everyone.
Of everyone where everyone. Yeah. Of everyone. And you go to a different region and get to know people.
First of all, get to know how to treat people respectfully and listen actively be a mediator.
Everybody should learn those skills and then got cross to see if we can rebuild those that connective tissue.
Yeah. How do you.
I'm sure people have said to you and I get into this conversation myself, that this critique that, you know, there are all kinds of groups of people, including people of color, who have long felt like strangers in their own land in this country.
And then with this, you're right. And then we're in this. Yeah.
Yes. And especially now yet again.
And it's when white people, you know, the critique that white people wake up to this phenomenon when it's about other white people. Mm hmm.
How do you how do you work with that in your mind?
I say it's true. And I think it's it's an important insight and. One thing I like about these living room conversations is that a lot of the groups are interracial and let's get that very conversation, that point across in in those conversations. Yes, I I think it's an excellent point. OK. I mean, for example, the opiate. Yes, yes.
Addiction problem has has been oh.
Now they're called diseases of despair and the kind of a compassion mechanism. Yeah.
Look. Yes. Yeah. Oh. Whereas the crack epidemic in the inner cities which had blacks wasn't it was criminalized. Tindley Yeah.
Yeah that's right. Yeah. Even worse.
So it's a it's a point that should be broadly received.
Mm hmm. So I want to draw to close. This has just such a big, wonderful conversation.
Um, just kind of curious about that. You say somewhere that.
The English language doesn't give us many words to describe the feeling of reaching out to someone from another world, and then this is in italics and of having that interest welcomed. And he said some of its own kind mutuel is created.
I just found that intriguing because I think so much about the power of words. And I wonder if you are their words you're using now, are you thinking or their friend and friend that gets added symbols and how important that is for us and in constructing our world?
Well, I use the word empathy, and it's something we're all capable of. And we, in a way, carry around empathy maps who we should and shouldn't feel empathic with.
And we need to enlarge those maps. Right. And shift them. And so maybe there are different kinds of empathy. That's that. And one is you could call it pragmatic.
No. To see if OK, let's see if we can heal this divide.
You've got a purpose to it. And then some is just there and it doesn't have that purpose. So you've already got two different, you know, qualities of empathy and types of empathy. So, yeah, that's a very special word.
And having it returned is you're kind of seeing the humanity of the person you've reached out to, like Madonna Massee, this gospel singer did to me.
Oh, I do that, too. She says right.
When you talk to her about the empathy where she said, I have one of those, too.
Yeah. Yeah. She said, Oh, you're my first Democratic friend. Yeah. So we laughed. We could laugh. Yes.
A new pool of laughter possible that started with an absolute acknowledgement of our differences. I think that's a good metric.
Like have you created a new pool of what is a pool of laughter possible?
That's good. Yes. Yes.
Um, yeah. So I, I think I would just want to ask you as we close and perhaps thinking about.
Yeah, how you continue to live with this, what you learned, what you not just not just what you learned as a scholar, but what you learned as a human being, you know, right now, as you look around in the world and as you as you move through this experience that has changed you like what makes you despair and and what what is giving you hope.
Hmm? Well. I'm a positive person, I would say, and I tend to see the glass half full and I think we're at a moment of challenge as a culture, but we've been in those moments before.
Yeah, and I I think it's time for us to look at leaders who have been real models of of repair. And let's look at Nelson Mandela, for example.
OK, he you know, his country was going to go to war with itself. Right? Right.
And they're right. It was bitter. If you look around the world, it's hard to find a place free Mandela that was more bitterly divided, black and white.
And he he. He did it differently, he did it like Gandhi, he was a unifier, he was he was a guy who was very good at talking across these hardened lines.
And we have a lot to learn from Nelson Mandela studying that kind of history and that kind of leaders.
You know, Martin Luther King. Yes. Were people who were not often in their corners just separating themselves off, but were good at saying, look, there are better angels here. Let's access them and create public conversation about a problem, see where we can go with it.
So let's think of those positive leaders and look to them and learn from them because they were real experts in empathy and pragmatism.
Yeah, yeah. I how you really like keeping that and empathy and pragmatism go together. I just this is a weird connection to make, but I think it's in the afterword of your book that you mentioned Café Gratitude in Berkeley, which I realized had closed until I read that because I was kind of an institution there.
And you you I think the story said it was a raw vegan place. And you you're kind of imagining with this new kind of these new sets of eyes you have you're saying, well, you know, thinking about some of your Christian friends in Louisiana and you're thinking, you know, maybe they would think here about café gratitude and think, oh, it's a happy place, but maybe they would see that it has there's some real echoes there with with their Christian way out of church.
Yeah. Tons of church. And then I actually looked because, like I said, that it closed and I looked online and I found this article in the I think the Berkeley student newspaper and the student. It was kind of an obituary for Café Gratitude. And the student was saying that they loved the daily question that they used to ask there. And then it would be in this then the examples they gave were, what are you grateful for or who can you forgive?
And you know you know, those are actually questions, for example, that Nelson Mandela asked.
Yes. Very, very surprisingly, given what he's been through.
That's right. That's right.
Imagine so we have a lot to learn.
We a know if we can live up to his model, but it's worth a good try.
Oh, thank you so much for this beautiful interview and for your work. I'm so glad you're out there in the world. Well, my pleasure. Great pleasure. Yeah. All right. Well, we will let you know when we're putting this on the air. I'm not exactly sure what the schedule is, but I know I know it's going to be very gratefully received.
Good luck. Good luck to you. Thank you. Have a lovely rest of your day. Bye bye.