Episode 5: Is this worth it?
Do you love America?
No, seriously, Carvell Wallace wants to know: do you love America? Today, he talks with Van Jones and Rabia Chaudry about love. Love for our country, love for the complicated humans in our lives, and love for ourselves. Together, they also explore power, specifically political power, and whether or not we can pursue political power with love.
VAN JONES & RABIA CHaUDRY
VAN JONES is a CNN political contributor and host of the recurring CNN primetime special The Messy Truth with Van Jones. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and Yale Law School, he was a special adviser to the Obama White House and is the author of two New York Times bestsellers. Jones founded the social justice accelerator the Dream Corps and has led numerous social and environmental justice enterprises, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. He has earned many honors, including the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation and a Webby Special Achievement Award, and he has been named one of Rolling Stone’s 12 Leaders Who Get Things Done, Fast Company’s 12 Most Creative Minds on Earth, and Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He lives with his wife and two children in the Los Angeles area.
RABIA CHAUDRY is a wife, mother, attorney, and a 2016 Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at U.S. Institute of Peace, where she researched the intersection of religion and violent extremism. She is an International Security Fellow at the think tank New America, and the NY Times Bestselling author of the book Adnan's Story. Rabia is also the co-host and co-producer of the hit podcast Undisclosed, which investigates wrongful convictions and has over 225 million downloads, and the co-host of the political podcast The 45th. She is a frequent public speaker and writer on religion, gender, social and criminal justice, and national security. Her twitter handle is @rabiasquared and more information about her work can be found at rabiachaudry.com
Episode 5 Transcript
IS THIS WORTH IT?
Closer Than They Appear: Episode 5
Carvell Wallace: [00:00:06] Do you have any faith in this country? Do you have any hope that this country can that it can get back to or was it ever good?
[00:00:12] I mean, what do you think about the future, when you think about it?
Shamrace: [00:00:20] I don't think they want it to get better, because you couldn't do the actions that you're doing and stuff that you're letting happen if you wanted this country to get better.
[00:00:30] I hope it get better.
Carvell Wallace: [00:00:35] Do you love America? No, seriously I'm asking you. Do you love this country? Do you love America?
[00:00:52] You're supposed to say "yes," by the way.
[00:00:54] American Patriotism isn't really optional. Even if you're my childhood friend Shamrace Mims, that's who you just heard and you've seen this town that you grew up and grow hollowed out by drugs and a failing industry and be completely left behind in that apocalyptic kind of way. Even if it's a colossal understatement to say that you don't trust the government. Even if you have really good reason to think that the system is literally stacked against you. Even then, you're still supposed to say that you love this country. I'm Carvell Wallace and this is Closer Than They Appear.
[00:01:38] And today, we're going to talk about love, love for our country and for the complicated humans in our lives and for ourselves. And we're also going to talk about power, specifically political power and whether or not we can pursue political power with love.
[00:02:04] We're going to talk with two people who have either had political power or have fought for political justice in this country and who think that having and fighting for political power is in fact a good way to make things better for all of us. One man who thinks leading America is a worthy goal is Van Jones.
Van Jones: [00:02:24] You can't lead a country that you don't love.
Carvell Wallace: [00:02:30] He's a CNN political commentator, a short term employee of the Obama White House, a longtime environmental, anti-prison, and civil rights activist. He's got a new book out. It's called "Beyond the Messy Truth: How we came apart, how we can come together."
Van Jones: [00:02:48] We now have people who are on hair trigger to respond to any soundbite, any tweet.
[00:02:56] And to be a part of so-called "call out” culture.
Carvell Wallace: [00:03:00] He argues that the Left is going to have a hard time gaining and maintaining political power if it's all about calling people out over little things.
Van Jones: [00:03:10] You know, instead of calling people in or calling people up, we call 'em out and we drag 'em. We gonna drag 'em! Drag 'em on Twitter! I don't live on Twitter. I get paid the same whether you like me or not on Twitter. People have decided that unless you say, all day long and only, "I hate Donald Trump," that you're a centrist.
[00:03:29] Now I'm on the left side of Pluto.
Carvell Wallace: [00:03:36] But still I did wonder when his younger, more strident, 1990s self would have thought of these ideas.
[00:03:46] When you were in in in that time and that part of your life, would you have advocated the same kind of reaching across the aisle to people who might be racist, people who might be alt-right at that time, as you do now?
Van Jones: [00:04:01] Yeah, well look. I was always a little bit odd in that regard. I've always been clear. You know, I grew up in the rural South. I've always been clear that the big part of the system's genius is to trick poor black people and poor white people into fighting all the time.
Carvell Wallace: [00:04:18] Yeah.
Van Jones: [00:04:19] That's a part of the genius of this system. And so of course you have to reach out to people who might be racist, in a white supremacist country. Who are you going reach out to? If you're waiting for all the white people to on their own become non-racist, you're going to be waiting a long time.
Carvell Wallace: [00:04:36] But people are tired of letting things slide.
[00:04:40] People don't want to put up with it anymore. They don't want to say, yeah this guy is kind of a racist, but hey we've got to build a coalition. As black people, we have had to in order to survive in this country, let racism slide, equivocate around it. Organizers say well, this is terrible, but I have to put up with it because that's the way it is.
[00:04:58] We've been doing that for many, many centuries, so.
Van Jones: [00:05:00] What century did black people do that in? What century did black people do that in?
Carvell Wallace: [00:05:04] What do you mean?
Van Jones: [00:05:05] I don't... I can't I can't find a century or a decade where black people haven't fought against racism.
Carvell Wallace: [00:05:10] I'm not saying not fighting against it. I'm saying that we've had to let it go to a certain extent in order to survive on a daily basis. Right? So I wonder if part of the issue isn't that people have... people are just like no more, never, no more, never.
Van Jones: [00:05:25] I think, listen, I hope nobody is... Really, I'm somebody who you know I don't think about this stuff and write on my you know Facebook page about it. I'm not actually out here fighting white supremacy on a daily basis. I mean, part of the problem is I just think we're so detached from our own history. Nothing that you said is out of line with what I'm saying. It's not a... it's not never for African-Americans... and I can only speak for my own tradition, has it been a question of, lay down and just say, "yassuh boss." That is not how black people have dealt. That's a false choice.
Van Jones: [00:06:00] My point is we're going to have to find deeper strength. I think we're stronger than we know. But if we think that if all we have to do is keep critiquing and being outraged, that that's going to fix it, no. It's a deeper thing. First thing we've got to do is to recenter and re-ground ourselves in our own resilience, and our own histories of struggle, where we frankly we've dealt with way worse than mean tweets, you know as black folks, as immigrants, or whatever, way worse as women, way worse.
Van Jones: [00:06:27] We've got a reground in that deeper history of resilience. You know, when I came up in the '80s and the '90s, there was still actually a Left, not a bunch of liberal fans of Barack Obama who are now distraught. But there was actually a Left, who understood that you have to build a movement that can govern, that can challenge bad guys, beat bad guys, and govern.
Carvell Wallace: [00:06:51] But if that was effective then why are we where we are now?
Van Jones: [00:06:54] Oh, I think it was effective. First of all, you know where we are right now is a year ago, liberals didn't do their job and let Donald Trump win. That's where we are.
[00:07:05] And when you let a fool like that win, foolish stuff happens.
Carvell Wallace: [00:07:08] But you believe that what we're experiencing now essentially can be traced back to as recently as a year ago?
[00:07:12] I mean, I know I'm not trying to like...
Van Jones: [00:07:14] Yeah you are. That's fine.
Carvell Wallace: [00:07:18] But I'm asking you like, in other words if that because the counterargument would be OK, well if that was if that was so effective, then why... how has our nation... right?
Van Jones: [00:07:27] But that's what that... But that's a transparently foolish thing to say and I'll tell you why. You can't... You have to ask yourself where were things in the 40s and the 50s and the 60s? And did the movements that we threw up against that get us out of where we were then. Transparently, yes.
Van Jones: [00:07:45] You just had you know, the Supreme Court recognized rights for lesbians and gays to get married. You had a black president. So transparently those movements did a great job against those obstacles. But the but the fallacy... and this is what's ruining I think the conversation on the Left. There is a false notion that there is a one way arrow for history and that you know, that you can win something permanently. That if you were to do... anything you did was good in 1940, then it should have been a permanent victory and no other changes should ever happen. That's transparently a foolish argument. You have 10,000 years of human history in which it was perfectly OK to chop people into small bits just because they were from another tribe, on the other side of the hill.
Van Jones: [00:08:42] Progressives, leftists, we underestimate the heroism of our own cause. The idea that your tribe of people who you're supposed to respect the rights of, is everybody, every human. That is some new shit. That is some radical... even to basic human rights, don't even go to full left analysis, but just basic human rights for every human being, that's new on the earth. And the idea that that's an easy thing, an obvious thing. And if you had a good protest, and you pass some bills, elected a black president, it should be done.
[00:09:16] And if in fact, you have to continue to re-fight this and re-fight this for another millennia, there's something wrong. No. That is the challenge that we have as human beings. That the easy thing to do is always to divide people based on a problem. The hard thing to do is to unite people based on a solution.
Carvell Wallace: [00:09:43] Van calls on us to be strong, to dig deep. Again and again and again again, we have to be strong and dig deep and be resilient. And he's right. That is how we won crucial victories in the 1950s and 60s, with phenomenal courage and strength and patience. We marched and faced dogs and firehoses and stared down the faces of those who would lynch us and the nation did budge.
[00:10:13] But then Martin Luther King was killed and Malcolm X was killed. And so then maybe we weren't as patient after that. Maybe people have had enough of that. When will the Right have to be strong? Dig deep, be resilient?
[00:10:37] When will white people have to face their fears with patience and calm and spiritual courage? Why must it always fall on us? The need to gain political power is a real one, but the personal and spiritual toll is tremendous.
[00:10:58] My heart physically hurts, even now as I say these words, my heart actually physically hurts and I know there are people who want to tell me, put that aside and focus on the task at hand. And I used to believe that, but I no longer believe that. I now believe that our hearts, our pain. Well, that is the task at hand.
[00:11:51] Hey. Just a pause here to say that if you're enjoying this show, check out our Facebook watch page. That's what we're posting our video series that brings you more important stories from some of our favorite guests and others asking some of the same questions we're asking in this show. We're at Facebook.com/closershow. Follow our page so you see new videos when they come out and stay tuned til the end of the episode when we'll hear from some of you. I've asked the questions. You've called with answers.
[00:12:23] That's coming up in a little while, but for now, back to the show.
[00:12:31] As you know, I like to ask other people to help me think through big questions, so I called up Rabia Chaudry.
Rabia Chaudry: My name is Rabia Chaudry. I am an attorney, I’m an advocate, I am an author and I am a podcaster.
Carvell Wallace: [00:12:40] If you've heard Rabia's name, maybe it's because you've listened to the podcast Serial. She's the lawyer who told them the story of Adnan Syed, who's been in prison since high school, accused of murder.
Carvell Wallace: [00:12:59] On her website, her bio says she hopes to someday be the mother of the first female American Muslim president of the United States. I hope so too. Rabia's got a lot of thoughts about what it means to do the work of fighting and how to take care of yourself as a human through all that.
Carvell Wallace: [00:13:22] A couple of months ago I got I was interviewed for like this Black History thing and there were all these questions and one of the ones that I continue to think about is the person said, "What do you think about when you're not thinking about race?" And I realized, no one ever asks me that. And so I want to pose the same question to you, what do you think about when you're not thinking about Islamophobia and justice? What, what's on your mind? What do you think about?
Rabia Chaudry: [00:13:49] Oh gosh, I love I love European murder mysteries on TV.
Carvell Wallace: [00:13:57] You mean, like those like those British ones where someone gets murdered in like a little town and then someone with a sweater has to solve the crime.
[00:14:04] [British voiceover] Were you on the night of Danny's death? Explain to me why.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:14:07] I love the British ones. Norwegian ones. I will read the subtitles. I don't have a problem with that. [voiceover in another language]
Rabia Chaudry: [00:14:15] You know, I love I love good good novels. I love literature. I I cook. I like to cook. I love music. You know, there's a lot of things. I love cats. I spent a lot of time this morning looking at cat pictures on Twitter. So there's a lot of things, you know.
[00:14:32] I mean.
Carvell Wallace: [00:14:37] All of this is a part of her identity.
[00:14:39] And I hear that. I also secretly love watching some European murder mysteries. This is one of the things that comes from being raised partially by this white woman from Connecticut, is that we'd always be watching PBS and we were always watching like All Creatures Great And Small. So even today, if I'm flipping channels and there is some murder that takes place in some weird village or dale or some garden or something, I'm always like did Mr. Havershire do it? But that's not what some people see when they look at me.
[00:15:09] And that's not what some people see when they look at Rabia.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:15:13] You know, I wear a headscarf, right.
Carvell Wallace: [00:15:14] Yeah.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:15:15] I didn't I didn't for much of my life. I have for the last 13 years or so. Who knows? Maybe going forward at some point, I'll be like I don't want to anymore. I don't know. It's a personal choice. That is that is an issue. There are people who are made very uncomfortable with that choice that I make, because to them it signals all kinds of things like you know, oppression and subjugation of women and all kinds of things. Whereas it means something very different for me. But I expect people even if they can never accept that it's an OK thing, like to them it's personally reprehensible, that they have to tolerate and respect my choice.
Carvell Wallace: [00:15:50] She's developed this attitude because she's experienced other people's discomfort her whole life as a Muslim living in the United States. She told me this one story about when she was in middle school during the Gulf War. Her teacher wheeled the TV into the classroom so they could all watch American troops head into Kuwait.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:16:10] And he asked, he was joking but the teacher asked me something about, can you call your Uncle Saddam and tell him to back off, or something like that. And I was like, what is happening here? Who's Saddam? I'm not from Iraq.
[00:16:26] I mean, there were like layers there. Part of it was I was embarrassed because it was in front of the class. I felt like this weird sense of responsibility for the Gulf War. Which I should not have had.
[00:16:38] But also there was a part of me and I think that maybe that even might be the moment that awoke the activist in me, because I was like I need to educate you. I am not from the Middle East. You know, I'm not Arab. I'm not Iraqi. I'm like... you know nothing... what you showed me, social studies teacher, is that you know nothing about the world.
Carvell Wallace: [00:16:58] Right.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:16:59] And that has become a large part of my career in fact is just trying to educate people to get it right.
Carvell Wallace: [00:17:08] To get it right. To be understood. Now what Van Jones was talking about is that we need to try and understand people who are different from us.
Van Jones: [00:17:27] If you don't want Donald Trump to be president then you have to explain to me how your tactics will prevent that. And so what I would say is, we should be in coalitions and in circles with people who we don't like and who don't like us for the purpose of being able to have a Barack Obama versus a Donald Trump.
Carvell Wallace: [00:17:56] But what Rabia is talking about, is the desire to be understood, to have your white teachers and friends and authority figures and neighbors understand your humanity. That is what people like us fight for, I think. That is why I write. That's why I'm doing this podcast. I asked Van Jones what gives him confidence that he can connect with so many different kinds of people.
Van Jones: [00:18:26] Well, I mean I just have a confidence in the power of dialogue and storytelling, more than anything else.
Carvell Wallace: [00:18:34] And I agree with him on that. We understand each other by sharing our stories.
[00:18:40] So I shared one with Rabia and I'm going to share it with you.
[00:18:48] I was raised by a single mom, who was 19 years old when she had me.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:18:53] Wow.
[00:18:53] And we went through a year of homelessness when I was in second grade.
[00:18:58] We were living in this apartment.
[00:18:59] My mother was born in the 1950s.
[00:19:02] By the time she left home in the early 70s, her world had changed tremendously.
[00:19:09] The fight for civil rights no longer wore a tucked-in shirt or a tie and a hat but only outdoors. The New Civil Rights wore sunglasses in the house, refused to cut its hair, carried guns and wasn't about to march peacefully anywhere.
[00:19:30] [archival audio] Black people, we are organizing to stop racism. You dig it? When you stop racism, you stop brutality.
Carvell Wallace: [00:19:30] For my mother, these were heady times. Black was beautiful. She was free to be herself in her skin. The future looked bright.
[00:19:41] The revolution would come. My mother, she was... how do you describe her? She was fanciful and freethinking and ambitious. She was playful and dramatic and sometimes dishonest. She was wildly beautiful. She was reckless and manipulative, shrewd and clueless.
[00:20:09] But then, we experienced our first year of real homelessness. We slept on couches. We shared bedrooms in strangers' homes. I spent the entirety of my second grade year like this, with my head down, quiet and hungry and staring the abject in the face the way that kids sometimes do. My memories of my mother from this age are just an image. A young woman beset with an ancient, multi-generational stress. She chewed the inside of her lip. She picked at her still adolescent acne. She would chug Coca Cola and smoke cigarettes compulsively, sitting in the driver's seat of our Pinto, hunched over the wheel. The weight of a small world on her slender shoulders. Darkness encroaching, an empty highway beyond the windows, and cold winter nights. Looking for a place for us to stay. I still remember one night watching her cry in the front seat. I tried to comfort her, I think. I don't remember if I did or not. Anyway, on these hungry, cold nights, it did not seem to matter that black was beautiful.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:21:44] Have you ever spoken about that moment with your mom? I'm curious did you ever... ?
Carvell Wallace: [00:21:48] You mean with her?
Rabia Chaudry: [00:21:50] Yeah. Did you say... Do you ever tell her, you know, I remember that happening?
Carvell Wallace: [00:21:53] You know, it's interesting. She she she died in 2008. She died of lung cancer. She was...
Rabia Chaudry: [00:21:58] I'm sorry to hear that.
Carvell Wallace: [00:21:59] Thank you. She was a pack a day smoker.
[00:22:02] Anyway she died at young, at 55 or something like that, 54-55. And we never I never I never really explored this moment with her, because it didn't really occur to me that it was a major moment in my life until after she was gone. And...
Rabia Chaudry: [00:22:21] I mean, I'm asking that because you know, my when I separated from my husband, my ex-husband it was a really traumatic separation.
[00:22:31] My daughter was, my eldest daughter was 4 at the time. We had one child. And you know, she's one of those people who has always been... she's 20 now, from four years of age to 20, she's just an extremely quiet person, who mostly comes across as just happy and content. And I always wonder what she remembers, what was hurtful, what she hasn't been able to say, you know, to me and her father about that time.
[00:23:02] And that's why I ask the questions, do you remember stuff? Did you talk about it? Like, because I wish I could get into her head you know, sometimes. And I maybe at some point I'll have the courage to try it.
Carvell Wallace: [00:23:13] Is it is it that you haven't you haven't asked her because it's it would be difficult to hear?
Rabia Chaudry: [00:23:19] I think it's I'm almost afraid. I'm afraid of...
[00:23:25] I'm afraid of finding out that she had a lot more awareness of what was happening around her, the ugliness around her, than than I wanted her to have.
[00:23:35] And you know, the culture that I come from, like we... South Asians, immigrants in general, Muslims for sure...
[00:23:44] It's just not part of our culture to do to go through counseling and therapy and we just tuck it all away and just and just you know forge on.
Carvell Wallace: [00:23:55] You have to talk about stuff.
[00:24:02] You can't just forge on because eventually you break down. The anger is too much. The hurt is too much. The task of survival asks of you this superhuman strength and you just can't do it alone. You have to get help from others. You have to talk about it and unburden yourself and process it. You have to be vulnerable even when it's terrifying, but then I always wonder how safe I am to do that.
[00:24:37] I've told people that I thought I could trust about the deepest parts of my racial hurt only to have them turn it against me and call me angry and depressed or dangerous. It's always about striking some kind of impossible balance between acknowledging what hurts and how deeply it hurts and yet somehow being positive enough to keep going.
Carvell Wallace: [00:25:08] You do this work. How do you know it's making an impact? How do you gauge success? And I wonder like, how you navigate through that.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:25:17] You know, many activists and advocates will spend decades working on maybe a single issue and not see success on it. But that doesn't mean that there's not value in them doing it. You might do the work forever and maybe never see it. Maybe two generations from now it'll be seen, but it doesn't mean you're you abdicate your duty to do the work. So, it really hurts me when I see from the outside now in different movements people saying well, you're a sellout because you decided to work with this institution or you took that position, despite like you know, you'll have people who have spent years working on issues. Suddenly, they'll take a position in government or media or somewhere and all of a sudden, all the grassroots people are calling them sellouts.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:26:00] And I think that is so shortsighted. What you need to do, think about, you and you and you need people pushing, you people pulling, you need people writing, you need in power, you need all of it. And every person you can get from your movement who then goes on to have any kind of public influence, you know, keep that person in your circle and use it. That's leverage.
Carvell Wallace: [00:26:22] But this is this is a really interesting debate though, because what I what I hear when people who are grassroots types on the Left, who are like sort of more hardcore-than-thou -types who we all know and grew up with. When they're like, such and such a person is a sellout because they went to such and such an institution or took such and such a fellowship, what they're really saying is the system is so fundamentally rotten that there's no way you could get in and still be about the work. Like that that, in other words, instead of you changing the system, the system is going to change you. And that's a fact.
[00:26:53] And I wonder what you think about that.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:26:57] I think, I personally completely disagree with that. I'm not. Here's the problem.
Carvell Wallace: [00:27:02] Yeah.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:27:03] What is the alternative? Like, give me a better plan and maybe I'll listen to you. There's no better plan other than us taking the institutions and reshaping them one person at a time. We're not going to dismantle the government. It's not going to happen. We don't want chaos. We don't want anarchy.
Carvell Wallace: [00:27:21] The lesser of two evils.
[00:27:24] Choosing between an imperfect system or no system at all. Working one person at a time. I mean, when you put it like that, you can argue that the choice seems clear, basic in fact you have to continue to work within the system to make incremental progress.
[00:27:44] But then you look at how much progress hasn't been made.
[00:27:52] Do you think things in America are getting better or worse?
Rabia Chaudry: [00:27:58] I mean, it depends on that's the thing you're measuring. And it took like in the last year and a half or so for it to all kind of come to a head. And people now saying oh yeah, I guess this is a thing I guess these are issues that we should be concerned about.
[00:28:15] And so to that extent I think it's good that there is such a level of awareness and solidarity between a lot of groups that didn't exist before, but the polarization obviously is really scary. You know, like where are limitations as a society? I mean, do we really have to respect Nazis?
[00:28:32] I mean like what.
Carvell Wallace: [00:28:33] Do you think we do?
Rabia Chaudry: [00:28:35] Look, if people want to go around saying "I hate black people and I hate Jews," they have the right to do it. But we also should designate it as hate speech and we should not give them platforms. We shouldn't be interviewing them and putting covers of them on magazines saying look how dapper they are.
[00:28:51] That's the problem. I mean, like I you know I don't know what's happened to the media in terms of their own sense of common sense and decency, in giving these people platforms that they don't deserve.
Carvell Wallace: [00:29:04] The other thing I actually think is even more pressing is that people have people when people look at certain figures on magazines with their dapper tweed jackets and haircuts, what they see is not an other, but a version of themselves, a version of their families, a version of their friends, a version of the Little brothers, a version of their little brothers' friends.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:29:25] I look, I have a lot of family in Pakistan and some of them hold the same kinds of ridiculous views, but because that's my family member like I can actually sit down and talk to them and I can also understand like I'm not going to sympathize with them, but I can I know how to intervene in those conversations.
Rabia Chaudry: [00:29:43] I know how to get them. Like because I also know that they're not evil. You know, like the relative I'm speaking to who is like totally off their rocker, that that's not an evil person but they've been fed a load of crock, right. That they're getting that they're getting information from the wrong places. They've had life experiences. They don't expose them to anybody. People who have never met a non-Muslim in their life, right. They’ve grown up in these little circles. So, it's not so much that we see them, we see ourselves in them, but that but that we just understand more about them. And I think that is important.
Carvell Wallace: [00:30:19] Someone very close to me just revealed that they have what I would consider pretty aberrant views on gay people, and their views are backed by religion. So in their mind, those views are non-negotiable. And yet I love this person. I still love them. I will always love them. I would eat dinner with this person. I would go to a museum and take a walk and stay up late into the night with this person. But would I lead a country alongside this person? Do I think this person should have the political power to enact their beliefs? When you have irreconcilable differences, differences like this, sometimes love just is not enough.
[00:31:12] I keep thinking about the word "hope," actually. And I mean, do you have hope for the future? For your kids? For yourself? For your community?
Rabia Chaudry: [00:31:25] Yeah, I do. I do. Also my husband is Canadian so if we needed to, we'd just...I'm kidding. I'm kind of kidding, but not really. No, I do. I mean, look I think the world seemed like it's on fire just because we're getting the news immediately, because we're so connected, because we see it. But if you kind of look at kind of a lot of the metrics you know, hunger and poverty are lower than they've been in much of history, you know. Infant mortality is lower. We're living longer. We have better lives. I mean, there are many measures that give me hope.
[00:31:59] You know, war, famine, disease. We're doing a lot better on those fronts on a global level.
[00:32:06] And so I do have hope and the other thing is like, what's the alternative? The alternate I'm always like, what's the alternative? That's always my question, if the alternative is to have no hope that's not that's that's not even a possibility, right, because that just means... what do you do with that? I don't know what to do with that. So I know you have to. And again, I'm a religious person. This is all... this is, for us for people of faith and I know it's not just Muslims it's for anybody of faith. This is all just in passing. We're going to be here for a blip of time and and and be done with it. And so for our little blip of time, you do the best you can.
Carvell Wallace: [00:32:46] At the end of my marriage, my wife and I could not communicate. There was too much hurt, too much resentment. We could not hear each other, but we had a family to run, kids to raise. So we had to end the union to save the relationship. But that was just the first step.
[00:33:07] We also had to be honest about our own shortcomings. We had to make direct amends to one another and then we had to in a sense, give up on ever trying to get what we wanted from each other.
[00:33:21] But we both had to do the work and each of us had to trust that the other was doing that work. So even though we were apart, we still had to do the work together. That is how we saved and made a working relationship out of a fractured one.
[00:33:42] But the thing is, there are relationships that I haven't done that with, people I once loved that I haven't seen in decades.
[00:33:53] And I have to deal with that, because you can't be together if you're not together.
[00:34:04] Next week, I'm going to seek some wisdom from Eva Paterson, a civil rights activist who's got a long term view on this country, on whether we can go forward and whether we can reconcile. And also, I'm going to turn and face my own past. I'm going to sit down with the white aunt who raised me from ages 8 to 13. It's time to go visit my Aunt Bea.
[00:34:35] But first, [audio message] "my name is Scott and this is a message for my dad."
[00:34:42] You've been calling me and telling me about words that went unsaid to people in your life. And it's been amazing to hear all of your stories like this one from Scott in Texas.
[00:34:53] You raised me to be a certain way, Dad. You raised me to be considerate of others, to try to work hard, to try to play by the rules, and to try to think the best of those around me. When you voted for the man who occupies 1600 Penn right now, you put yourself in league with people who betray every ideal you ever felt. And it breaks my heart and I don't know... you're one of the most decent honorable, hardworking men I've ever met in my life. And you were a great father. You still are. I just hope that we can get to a point where we can actually get back on the same page. Love ya. Thanks.
Carvell Wallace: [00:35:50] We also heard from Hassan, in Illinois. He told us about growing up in a small town and what happened one day when he was a teenager. He was rushing to work and accidentally almost caused a car accident with a man in a large truck.
[00:36:05] [Audio recording] He comes out of the truck and aggressively walks up to me and he says, "Well, you better learn how to drive or you can just go back to where you came from." So I would, I guess I would say to this man, I get it. Listen, I get why you are mad at me. I could have caused a huge accident. It could have been a big problem for you, I want you to consider for a moment when you look that skinny kid in the eye in that parking lot and you told him he did not belong in the country that he was born and raised in...
[00:36:46] I don't know if you're an islamophobe or a racist, but you are clearly someone who does not see equal humanity in your fellow man. And I hope that you make some Muslim friends. I hope that you talk to other people and interact with people who are not like you. I hope that you expand your perspective on life and I hope that you choose to educate someone instead of yelling at them and berating them and making them feel like they're... they don't belong.
Carvell Wallace: [00:37:34] Thank you so much to everyone who's been calling in. This is really my favorite part of the show.
[00:37:40] And I've been asking you to tell us what you'd say to someone that you don't want to talk to. But now I'm going to change that up a little bit. Now, I want to hear what happens when you actually have those conversations.
[00:37:54] Did you find forgiveness with this person? Did you find reconciliation or did you just decide to go on loving someone despite your differences with them, despite their belief? I want you to call and tell us your story at 949-522-5587. 949-522-5587.
[00:38:16] Leave a voicemail. You don't have to use your name if you don't want to. And you might hear your message in a future episode.
[00:38:29] You've been listening to Closer Than They Appear from Jetty Studios. I would really love to hear from you, so write the show a review on Apple podcasts or find us on social media. We're on Facebook and Twitter @closershow and you can always find links to episodes and full transcripts on our website, CloserThanTheyAppear.fm. Our senior producer is Casey Miner. Our producer is Lacy Roberts and our editor is Leila Day. Graelyn Brashear and Paulana Lamonier run our social media and our associate producer is Meradith Hoddinott. Our show is engineered by Mark Behm with mixing and sound design by Ian Coss. Music is by Antique Naked Soul. You can hear more from them at Antique-Music.com. Megan Jones runs our podcast operations and Jessica Wang is our senior video producer. Special thanks to Dena Taggery and Matt Hainey for helping us get Van Jones. Jetty's executive producer is Julie Caine, and general manager is Kaizar Campwala. See you next week.