CoastLine: Harvard Social Scientist Arthur Brooks on loving the enemy and the dangers of contempt
It was January of 2019 that WHQR brought together about dozen people to launch a yearlong experiment in civil discourse. The series, Beneath The Surface, had some deeply moving and surprising moments, and it had some spectacular failures. One colleague at the station likens the series to the early garage band tapes of civil discourse. Another colleague calls it the series that broke me. Arthur Brooks wrote the book I relied on heavily during that process.
It was January of 2019 that WHQR started a year-long civil discourse experiment. We brought together about a dozen people, diverse in age, ethnicity, and political affiliation to observe how the tone and quality of the group's conversation changed over the year. We also wanted to find out if these people would eventually value spending time together – we wanted to see if they could like each other -- even though they disagreed on serious issues.
The series, Beneath The Surface, had some deeply moving and surprising moments -- and it had some spectacular failures. One colleague at the station likens the series to the early garage band tapes of civil discourse. Another colleague calls it the series that broke me.
But I still find that the book I relied on heavily during that process, which had just been published by a social scientist who is now at Harvard, that book still offers wisdom that is too easily skipped over or simply forgotten. And the lessons it explores, which the author did not invent, are required learning for a happy life.
If you worry about the future of this country, this interview with Arthur Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt, is worth hearing. Just for a moment, put aside your cynicism. You can pick it up again as soon as this episode is over.
Arthur Brooks is a social scientist who studies human happiness. He is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School. He’s also the bestselling author of twelve books and creator of the popular How to Build a Life column for The Atlantic.
This interview first aired in 2019.