I swore off radio and TV hosts such as Beck, Rush Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and Hannity long ago. While I considered myself more Republican than Democrat, I couldn’t stand the theatrics, the drama, the frenzied, extreme and binary approach to very nuanced and complicated issues. I just could not stand to listen to them. I read commentary from time to time, but even that lost interest for me, as well as any hope the lot could ever dare present, dissect and stand-by an idea without first declaring their forthcoming conclusion “Right” and everyone else “Wrong” or even more cutting (from their point-of-view anyway) “Liberal” – a word which carries not only the stigma of being wrong but also deliberately stupid.
I was never a regular listener, but always enjoyed Krista Tippett’s meditative presentation of philosophy, religion, happiness and meaning. I recently began commuting to a job and so subscribed to a number of podcasts, including Tippett’s “On Being”. I listened to a few episodes, happy for the weekly challenges to think big and deep. A couple of weeks ago, I noted that an episode featuring Glenn Beck was queued for listening. I couldn’t do it. Tippett is thoughtful, gentle, kind, reasoned and a big thinker. Beck? Smart, biting, over-the-top, unkind – maybe even mean, narrow-minded. Loud. I just couldn’t bring myself to listen, I mean a commute is stressful enough without Beck berating all things Barrak-like. The Beck I knew was binary. It didn’t matter if there was anything virtuous, lovely or of good report in an idea, if it came from anyone L. O. B (Left of Beck) on the political spectrum, it was an unmitigated abomination.
I almost deleted the episode, even half-swiping left a couple of times before retreating; my own mantra of not only consuming information with which I agreed rattling around in my brain.
So, I listened. I was moved. There is hope. Lots of it in fact.
Here’s a transcript of the podcast introduction:
KRISTA TIPPETT, HOST: When I told people I was going to have Glenn Beck on this show, some reacted badly. But I’ve been conversing with him privately this year about what it will take to heal the divides and misunderstanding among Americans. He is a lightning rod of our ruptures, but for several years, he’s also been acknowledging his own role in the damaged state we’re in. Here he is with Megyn Kelly on Fox in 2014:
MS. MEGYN KELLY: When you think back on your time here, how will you remember it, how do you remember it now?
MR. GLENN BECK: I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes. And I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language because I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.
MS. TIPPETT: Glenn Beck is a complicated person. So, after all, are we all. Speaking with him brings home the reality that if we’re going to create the world we want our children to inhabit, we’re going to have to find ways to hold more complexity peaceably, and probably uncomfortably, just to soften what is possible between us. We need to be ready to let others surprise us, let them repent, offer forgiveness, and ask hard questions of our own place in this moment. This doesn’t happen often in politics, but it is essential in life and must be part of common life too. As part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, I draw out Glenn Beck in this generosity of spirit.
MR. BECK: We have to start believing the best in each other instead of expecting the worst. And I’m guilty — I hate to say that because I can’t imagine how many people in your audience just rolled their eyes and went, “You’ve got to be — coming from Glenn Beck?”
Give the whole interview a listen, and enjoy the commute.