The Brooks Family Lecture: “Bringing America Together”

good afternoon ladies and gentlemen we’d
like to get started soon thank you all for braving the elements to be here with
us this afternoon my name is andrew samwick and i’m a
professor of economics and the director of the nelson a Rockefeller Center here
at Dartmouth it’s my pleasure to welcome you to this year’s Brooks family lecture
bringing Ameritech America together presented by Arthur Brooks no relation
dr. Brooks is best known as the president of the American Enterprise
Institute the Brooks family lecture was established in 1990 by a gift from
Dexter Brooks a member of the Dartmouth class of 1947 and the Tuck School class
of 1949 who had a successful career in publishing and real estate the Brooks
family lecture has been a mainstay of Rockefeller Center programming including
today as we continue our year-long celebrations of the Rockefeller centers
35th anniversary the Brooks family lecture promotes balanced discussions of
national and international issues my files say that the first Brooks family
lecturer was George Soros commenting on the 1989 revolution which was a wave of
uprisings in Central and European in Central and Eastern Europe still in
progress at the time of that lecture that signaled the end of communist rule
in that area I completed my undergraduate degree in 1989 seeing the
bold efforts of the revolutionaries and the toppling of autocratic regimes
throughout the region filled me and my generation with a sense of optimism and
hope for freedom and democracy as I moved on to my graduate school and then
my professional life fast forward three decades to the present and you will
still find me hopeful hope is a state of mind but considerably less optimistic a
statement about probabilities and the most surprising turn of event is that
the loss of optimism is based as much on what has happened inside of America the
beacon for that revolutionary wave as it has depended on goings on in other parts
of the world America is not what it was and the diminution is due more to our
own internal struggles than to any threat beyond
borders I’m not alone in my assessment no matter what our political views few
people believe our country’s as united as it should be whether in media in
politics or any almost anywhere else in what we call the Civic sphere we all
recognize that the country is increasingly defined by a culture of
contempt in which people treat others with whom they disagree as defective or
worthless or some other pejorative this afternoon dr. Brooks will argue that
even within this distressing reality there lies an opportunity for our nation
he will address the divisions that plagued America and articulate a set of
strategies to help us disagree better forge a new model of aspirational
leadership and unite the country dr. Brooks is the president of the American
Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research a private non partisan
not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of
government politics economics and social welfare its mission is to defend the
principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic
capitalism dr. Brooks became president of AEI in
2009 where he is also the Beth and Raven o curry scholar in free enterprise
before becoming president of AEI in 2009 dr. Brooks was the Luas a Bantle
professor of business and government at Syracuse University where he taught
economics and social entrepreneurship he holds a PhD and an MPhil in policy
analysis from the partir and graduate school prior to his work in academia and
public policy he spent 12 years as a classical musician in the United States
in Spain he’s a columnist for The Washington Post
host of the podcast the Arthur Brooks show and the best-selling author of 11
books and dozens of articles on topics including the role of government
Economic Opportunity happiness and the morality of free enterprise his latest
book love your enemies it’s got a great subtitle love your enemies how decent
people can save America from the culture of contempt will be released this spring
this summer he will join the faculty at Harvard with appointments in both the
schools of government business before he takes the stage we
are delighted to share with you a trailer for the pursuit this
feature-length film is the culmination of three years of research conversations
and travel across three continents to seek an answer to the question how can
we lift up the world starting with those at the margins of society
along the way it reveals the secrets to not only material progress for the least
fortunate but also greater happiness for all people the film will be digitally
released in early May and for more information on the film and screenings
please visit whatever we got to do to get the
American Dream honesty and that’s what we’re gonna do you know the American
Dream is always predicated on you work hard you get the right grade you go to
the right schools and a lot of time it doesn’t work that way
go goes away what we’re gonna do they didn’t think about that an expected
ending expected you know two billion people have been pulled out of
starvation level poverty what did that forget book out of the GDP we didn’t
even have booked up at the home and the markets have given us per capita home
the real poverty exists when a young man or a young woman grows up with no desire as poverty man
everyone what happy life do not want suffering you are showing genuine
interest not only money matter but wider perspective I did there were sufficient
and here on earth the point of the American experience is
basically a moral consensus that our society should push opportunity to the
people who needed the most those of you who are interested in
seeing that movie in its entirety there’s a lot of opportunities to do it
it’s a project that has been long in the making
we’ll be doing screenings all over the United States and if you are interested
in one here here in Hanover it’s just a question of letting us know and we have
an organization that does all the work we’ll have about a hundred or 200
screenings around the United States it’ll law and then it’ll be on Netflix
come summer so I hope you enjoy it I certainly enjoyed making it it was a
big adventure and and and what an honor it is for me to be here tonight I’m
you’re the hardcores I mean it’s snowing out there and you’re here anyway and I
really appreciate it I know that look in New Hampshire this is child’s play I
lived in Syracuse for a long time and I know that the people who really are
committed they show up to this type of thing so so thank you so very much and
thank you Andrew for that gracious introduction I appreciate it you know
you heard that I’m the president of American Enterprise Institute I’m
fundamentally I’m an academic and I spend a lot of my spent years at
Syracuse University I will be going back into academia next summer the thing that
I love about think-tanks however is that we’re dedicated in Washington DC I mean
that some are on the right some are on the left but what they all have in
common is looking for big old problems that people can’t solve and trying to
find an epiphany to solve them in new ways that’s kind of the research
protocol things that people are they’re cracking their heads against and can’t
solve we’re looking for the new angle to look at these things in a new way and
and everybody in here you know that all the big epiphanies in your life have
come by thinking about old problems in new ways you can think about it in your
school work or in your and if you’ve started a business I mean it’s certainly
true for I mean I just get getting to know the Brooks family here by the way
not related as far as we know but I mean how many Brooks does can there be and
still my incredible appreciation I was actually wondering whether or not you
have to find somebody named Brooks to be in the Brooks lecture my friend David
Brooks has done it doesn’t matter fact next to me Mel Brooks next year
he’s gonna film Hall and whether it’s snowing or not but one of the but what
you if you’re successful in business you’re successful in any part of your
life you know that the biggest breakthroughs that you’ve had or when
you have a different way of thinking about no problem I had this you know
experience I was trying to think of an example of this just in everyday life
and we were talking beforehand about my son I have three kids and my middle son
who who is a farmer in Idaho he didn’t go to college
she hasn’t go to college yet at least and he he you know who we had three
years ago when he was still in high school my wife Esther and I were having
this really bad parent-teacher conference I mean some of you you know
some of you who were students how many of your students by the way some of you
did this to your parents so you know call your mother and apologize and a
really bad picture parent-teacher conference he was about grades grades
problem and and it was it on it was an old problem ongoing old problem okay and
you know this is gonna what’s gonna lead to graduation what does it mean and
afterward my wife and I were very stressed out and we were in the car
weren’t talking and finally she says she Maya was from Barcelona she’s an
optimist and she says we need to think about this old problem in a brand new
way and I said I’m all ears sweetheart goes yeah she says at least
we know he’s not cheating so that’s the spirit in which I want to talk about it
all what’s becoming an old problem an ongoing issue in America today I want to
talk not about the fact that you know left-wing politics as a senator
right-wing politics is ascendant or that one side is right and one side is wrong
I’m not going to tell you what you should think about politics I’m going to
regret with you how we talk to each other in politics in America today
because I’m going to make the proposition that we can’t make progress
as a country and our democracy is in peril as long as we stop it continue to
to vanquish one side of the other utterly and we treat each other the way
that we’ve been treating each other with hatred and disrespect but I’m gonna do
more than that I’m gonna tell you how I think it each of us can be an agent in
fixing that no matter what your sphere of influence is whether you run a think
tank like I do or your professor at Dartmouth College or whether you know
you basically just know your neighbors how you can actually be an agent for
change and make the country better now once again I’m not gonna try to convince
you of my politics you don’t care what my politics are and you shouldn’t I’m
gonna tell you that if we do the stuff that I’m talking about each of us can be
an agent for positive change that’s my proposition tonight you know
it’s big promise right so so let’s see now I want to tell you when I first had
this had this at this this creeping sensation that we were in trouble as a
country in the way we talk to each other politically it actually was a moment
that I remember I was here in New Hampshire in 2014 I was in Manchester
New Hampshire and I was at I was at a conservative activist conference why
because you know says what I do for a living I talk to people you know when
you’re the president of a think tank there’s actually not that much thinking
in tanks it’s mostly traveling around and talking to people you know you raise
money and you give ideas share ideas great it’s best life ever I can do a
hundred and seventy-five speeches a year you know talking didn’t and it’s across
the political spectrum by the way I go on college campuses that are extremely
left-wing sometimes and and conservative activist events like this one in in
Manchester okay 700 conservative activists super into it three-cornered
hats the whole deal okay and I and you know they love their country and they’re
really fired up right okay now here’s the interesting thing about this event
it was all politicians except me furthermore everybody was running for
president in 2016 except me it’s like a Cecil B DeMille production the cast of
thousands kind of thing it’s like candidate candidate candidate candidate
B candidate candidate candidate right so I was they I was kind of the
odd man out in this thing and I’m come a little bit early just get an idea what
people saying and politicians were doing with politicians always do they were
throwing raw steaks that into the crowd right and they were just firing the
crowd up about how stupid the other side are how evil the other side are how
utterly wrongheaded the other side is right why because you know politicians
are trying to fire up their side you’re not trying to challenge the audience
they’re trying to get enthusiasm out of the audience they always do it doesn’t
matter if they’re right or left that’s what they do okay watch a rally so I was
standing backstage I was thinking to myself what am I supposed to do what am
I supposed to do I mean look I’ve got my opinions and you have yours well what’s
your opportunity under the circumstances the opportunity is make it better
improve this situation in some way I got look I don’t have to run for election I
don’t have to get elected to anything ever I don’t have to get anybody’s votes
it’s an incredible privilege so what am I gonna say so I’m in little plan right
and you know we’re talking about free-market economics and foreign policy
and my own politics or center-right so most people in the audience I’m gonna
agree with right I’m gonna talk about deregulation in taxes etcetera etcetera
but here’s my peers my plan I got in the middle of my speech and I stopped and I
said okay my friends we’re talking about policy issues and I am saying things
with which you are mostly in agreement but I want you to think about right now
the people who don’t agree with us and they’re not here they’re political
progresses and I want you to remember that they’re not stupid and they’re not
evil there’s simply Americans who disagree
with us now I knew it wasn’t gonna be an applause line mm-hmm but this lady she
says I think they’re stupid and evil now I it was it’s kind of a joke you
know it wasn’t supposed to repudiate me or it wasn’t an insult to me at all I
didn’t take it as such but you know I thought of
I thought of Seattle why because it’s my hometown you know I grew up in Seattle
Washington my mother was an artist and my father was a math professor what do
you think their politics were I mean when you say you’re from a liberal
family in Seattle that’s actually redundant so when that lady said that
she was insulting my family and I took it personally I think it mad but it made
me because these are these moments of clarity that you get sometimes moral
clarity I remember when I was a kid my dad used to say that the the mark of
moral courage isn’t standing up to the other side that’s super easy standing up
the other side the mark of moral courage is standing up to people on your own
side on behalf of people on the other side all right what was the last time
you did that see we’re in a moment in America where
we’re being fired up constantly by leaders to stand up to the other side
and insult them that’s not a mark of moral courage
that’s a moral problem that is actually the problem we need to solve when people
try to diagnose it they’ll often say we have a civility problem or that we have
a tolerance problem right we need more civility in America we know our
tolerance that’s actually wrong those are garbage standards if I tell you you
know my wife my wife and I were civil to each other you’d be like oh you need
some counseling man or you know I’m president American Enterprise Institute
and I think that my mice I think that my staff they tolerate me it’s like whoa
bad situation right you don’t want civility intolerance not
high enough we need something better for a country like this we need love we need
to love each other impossible right well let’s think about
it a little bit people often say that in the current situation like what I saw in
New Hampshire or what you can see on any cable channel right now when you
turn it on is angry politics people are angry all the time right that’s actually
incorrect anger is not inherently politically problematic inherently it’s
not problematic for any relationship as a matter of fact there’s a lot of good
data that show that anger is uncorrelated in Hmong married couples
with separation and divorce fighting doesn’t lead to separation in divorce
what leads to separation and divorce I asked a friend of Mines name is John
Gottman he’s a psychologist the University of Washington in Seattle he
was the gotten in marriage laboratory this guy has brought thousands of
couples together that run the brink of divorce guy’s a hero in my book why
because anybody who brings families together so they don’t separate is doing
a great thing that’s the strength of any society is intact families so John
Gottman with his wife Julie they have this thing that they can do or they can
have a couple that’s quarreling it’s an in laboratory he can interview them for
an hour and after just one hour asking him some simple questions he can predict
with 97% accuracy if they will be divorced within three years as you know
if those of you who are married you want to know I rolling the ultimate sign not
of anger but of contempt contempt as Andrew mentioned before is the
conviction of the other worthlessness of another human being
when you show somebody contempt with sarcastic humor with derision eye
rolling dismissal you get a permanent enemy anger says I care about what you
think contempt says you or you personally are not worth caring about
that’s how you get somebody to be permanently against you in your point of
view it’s an inherently self-defeating kind of expression and yet that if
that’s of course what what couples are doing all the time we’re on their way to
divorce court and that’s what we’re doing in America all the time we’re like
a dysfunctional couple in the United States today of course we have
disagreements we’ve always had disagreements but an extent to which we
treat each other with contempt because of these disagreements we pull the
country further apart now why do we do it right I mean you’re
bad person I’m not a bad person and yet I can think of examples in which I
treated people with contempt look I’m on social media
that’s a contempt machine and Twitter I mean those of you who are not on it
congratulations those of you who are you understand it’s where you say anything
political and people are attacking you all over the place and anima Slee and
treating you with other contempt you turn on cable television you listen to
popular politicians today and it’s nothing more than expressions of
contempt why is it why do we do this well to begin with there is a a contempt
industrial complex in this country people are getting famous and powerful
and rich by setting you against your neighbors now it was a very interesting
poll I saw two weeks ago as a matter of fact pretty new no longer than that
that shows that ninety-three percent of Americans say they hate how divided we
become as a country okay in other words they actually don’t hate their neighbors
and don’t like our country being driven apart they disagree I mean strong
opinions are great for opinions are the basis of a free society that’s what a
competition of ideas is all about but but hating your neighbors over it that’s
not functional here’s the interesting part
7% 93% hate it 7% don’t who are they they’re the people who are invested in
it people were getting rewards from actually turning neighbor against
neighbor American against American compatriot against compatriot these
people are manipulating this country are brutalized in this country are
terrorizing this country terrorizing us so one of the things I’m going to talk
about later is how to stand up to them and if that’s part of my strategy and
part of how all of us can be in this fight again I’m not gonna ask you to
agree but it will ask you to consider the expressions of contempt that you’re
encouraged to display toward your neighbors okay so that’s the first part
of what’s going on here that we have this big contempt problem why do the
rest of us do this if we’re not in the 7% the answer is it’s a it’s a habit
just to have it simple have it habit of expression that’s what we hear that’s
what we see that’s what we do okay now you see you know somebody says something
you think is really wrongheaded politically you’re rolling your eyes you
found yourself doing it right that is hugely damaging to other people you just
don’t know it because you’re so used to it
habits happen all the time and they’re there they’re there extreme be extremely
damaging and self reinforcing there’s a I’m gonna give you one tiny little
science lesson on the neuro psychology of habit formation habits are formed and
reinforced in the part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens the nucleus
accumbens is about size of walnuts in the very center of your brain it was
evolved more than a million years ago we think that our ideas and our expressions
and the things that we say are processed by the medial prefrontal cortex the part
of your brain right behind your forehead that is true for the most part but when
you have a habit including a habit of speech or habit of expression is
bypassing your prefrontal cortex that’s going straight through the nucleus
accumbens the nucleus accumbens is a reward center so when you do something
that feels sort of satisfying it lights up that little brain center and you
start using that automatically without thinking about it that’s how all bad
habits work you know when you’re when you’re used to saying something doing
something smoking whatever your nucleus accumbens is driving your behavior okay
so how do you break about habit any bad habit the answer is you get a reprogram
the nucleus accumbens and the way you do that is when you have the impulse to do
something as DLitt erious with which you ever have it you stop and you do
something else you have to substitute for it when somebody says just stop
doing something if it’s a habit that’s terrible advice can’t be done on the
other hand you have to say every time you want to do X stop and do Y instead
and you will reprogram your brain okay so you know years ago you heard that you
know I used to make my living as a classical musician for years and year
for 12 years over the classical French horn player and I did what most
musicians do I smoked right and I didn’t want to be a smoker I mean it’s funny
you know the people who who smoke cigarettes that most almost all of them
don’t want to write it’s that it’s the for-profit brand that they
that they give the most business to but hate right
these days the for-profit brand we hate the most but use the most is like you
know United Airlines or Twitter or something like that but but it was like
Marlboro cigarettes back in the day how do I get off then how do I get off the
smokes and I got the I got the the advice when every time you want to smoke
do something else so I started drinking anyway so if I have this habit of
contempt if you have this habit of contempt what do you do every time you
feel it somebody says something you disagree with somebody makes a snarky
comment somebody insults you whatever you feel it you feel to come in what do
you do I want an advice so when I was shooting that film that you just saw the
trailer for it is now he saw that I was with the Dalai Lama at the end of it and
I asked the dalai lama see see between tea we were in french for a long time
for six and a half years we’ve been working together we were written
together new york times we’re working on a book we’ve done conferences i’ve
interviewed him a bunch of times the united states and every six months to a
year i see him in his home in Dharamsala in the himalayan foothills in northern
india that’s where we were on that film so we’re making that he’s the wisest man
I know and and I said your holiness puzzling through this I said what should
I do when I feel contempt and he said you should practice warm heartedness and
I thought you got anything else you know cuz that sounds kind of weak to me
practice warm heartedness but then I thought about it a little bit more those
are you don’t know anything about the dalai lama he’s the leader of the
Tibetan people and he’s the world’s most respected religious figure he was alive
today the Dalai Lama also has been the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists since he
was she was sort of found as the Dali Lama when he’s a kid and he was exiled
by the Communist Chinese when they rolled through Tibet when he was a
teenager more than six decades ago I mean it’s it’s it’s it’s an amazing
story where the Communist Chinese the largest standing army brutal aggressions
is always what tyrants do is they roll through they they victimize the weak
this is these are pacifists they don’t even know how to use gun
but what do they have there were six million Tibetans living in this huge
land mass that just happens to control the headwaters of all the Chinese rivers
its resources man and so the Chinese wall through Tibet force out the Dalai
Lama into exile to be disappeared to be forgotten forever right and what happens
over the next 60 years he becomes the world’s most respected figure in the
religious world how’d he do it with more important Asst he told me that he starts
every day praying for the Chinese leaders not that they’ll give him back
his homeland but that they will live good and happy lives that okay know what
I bring it up because that’s not weak that’s actually pure raw strength
answering somebody’s contempt with warm-heartedness
answering somebody’s hate with love is the hardest thing that you can do it’s
the sign of a truly strong person answering hate with hate that’s what
weak people do answering contempt is more contempt that’s what weak people do
that’s what people who are stimulated and respond without any thought but if
you want to be tough like the Dalai Lama and string contempt with
warm-heartedness that’s the way to do it all right so I thought huh great advice
great advice he always gives me great advice so then I asked him how go that’s
the tricky question right it’s one thing to say be nice to people who hate you
something else to know how to do it and here’s the advice he gave me he said
think of a time when you answered contempt with warm-heartedness
I just think about a time you did that and then and then you know remember the
circumstances remember how you felt and go through that feeling again recreate
that feeling every time it’s a very sound psychological technique by the way
the idea of recreating a pleasant feeling it’s getting yourself in the
zone of that but I had to remember a time when I had inadvertently treated
somebody’s contempt with warm heartedness tricky so I want to tell you
so I went back to my little room by the way when I’m in Dharamsala I have this
little room just decorated Tibetan it’s just beautiful and
and and and I thought I meditated on ahead and thought about it and I
remembered a time when I answered contempt with more heartedness
inadvertently and I want to share it with you not because I want you to have
my story to use but because I want you to come up with yours and this might
help stimulate your memory so I’m in Dharamsala thinking about this
and I remember a thing that happened to me in 2006 now in 2006 I was I was the
happiest person in the world I was a college professor the world’s greatest
job I was beavering away in relative professorial obscurity I was teaching my
students who were phenomenal my graduate students at Syracuse I was writing books
that nobody ever read because they were boring but I liked it I liked it a lot
and suddenly weird thing happened my life changed overnight
why because I wrote this really boring academic book and lots of numbers and
charts and graphs and it hit the news cycle in just the right way and it
started selling hundreds of copies a day this is not what I expected I expected
to sell a couple thousand copies total and suddenly I mean it was about
charitable giving it was a book about who gives to charity and who thinks they
give to charity and had a big angle on religious people versus secular people
and Democrats versus Republicans and and it was kind of an interesting result
that was sort of unexpected and so a few famous people talked about it and it got
in the newspapers and pretty soon when I was on TV every day and my life changed
literally my life has never been the same or since I wasn’t ready for this
but here’s the weird part I started to hear from total strangers because when
you have a best-selling book people read the book and they feel like they know
you and if they like the book they tell you and they like you and if they don’t
like the book they tell you that too and they don’t like you as a person so I’m
getting anonymous or just email from hundreds thousands of people because my
email was available on the University website very easy to get universities
don’t do this now but back in those days directory everybody’s email is publicly
available so I’m hearing from all these strangers all the time love your book
hate your book whatever a few weeks after the book comes out I get an email
from a guy in Texas your professor Brooks you are a
right-wing fraud it’s like a very unpromising beginning
to an email but I keep reading because I’m a good sport and I notice that this
this email is like 5,000 words long it’s gonna take me 20 minutes to read and and
it’s it’s going into incredible detail this guy is going through every chart
every graph every fact every statement every assertion in my book and refuting
it but but with detail I mean that the columns and table 3.1 or reversed you
idiot stuff like that I mean this is very insulting
you know 15 minutes into this email and I was I started weirdly becoming
conscious of my thought process and here’s what I was thinking the whole
time he read my book and you know I was filled with gratitude super weird right
why because it took me two years to write that book and that guy read the
whole thing every word so I decided you know I’m gonna write back to and tell
him what’s written on my heart I got nothing to lose I don’t know him dear
so-and-so took me two years to write that book you
read every word of it I’m so grateful to you for doing that I just wanted to tell
you thank you send okay I think I’d like to work I mean I’m working on a dataset
or something something technical 15 minutes later his response pops back up
ding and like oh it’s that guy again this is gonna be really bad or something
I don’t know I open up his email here’s what says your professor Brooks next
time you’re in Texas if you want to get some dinner give me a call huh Anna made
a friend in just a few words what happened
the answer is I accidentally changed his heart because I answered his contempt
with warm-heartedness he was expected well first of all when
you’re right – somebody’s got a book of the bestseller list you don’t think
they’re actually gonna read it you’re doing it for your own self expression
right and then you find out that they read it what are they gonna do if they
write you back which they probably won’t they’re gonna say well you’re an idiot
you’re a bigger imbecile that I am or something right that’s how people react
to each other and I wrote back and I said just kind of what I thought it was
true thank you thank you for reading my book it’s so awesome that you’re in my
book and he’s like watch a real guy and that guy’s treating me with kindness
and he decided no by the way he didn’t decide he liked my book I’m sure he
completely still disagreed with everything I read the book but he said
he liked me that’s the contempt killer that’s a big
epiphany because that’s pure power that’s also an opportunity that is what
we can do each one of us can do look you’re gonna face contempt I’m gonna
talk more about this in a second but you can and America can turn this thing
around you don’t have to convince anybody else of your politics we don’t
have to have just one political point of view but each of us can stand up to
contempt and do what our hearts truly desire that’s the secret
okay now I got to tell you how a little bit better than that
because you know I’m an academic and I’m have to give you some homework so if you
want to do this in your life and you want to make the country better I’m
gonna give you three pieces of advice no no no I’m gonna give you three
assignments and if you followed these three assignments you’re gonna have
success and be happier guaranteed okay so here’s your homework assignment
number one actually let me start with homework assignment number zero which is
not your homework agree more that’s wrong you need to hold your opinions and
hold them well and be informed and hold them fast
why because you know you know what the most mediocre society is like it’s one
of which everybody agrees it’s boring stagnant disagreement has another name
it’s called a competition of ideas and it’s fundamental to a free society the
competition of ideas requires that we have different point of views different
perspectives and that we engage each other competition is one of the great
the great cultural and philosophical epiphanies
largely dominant and and introduced by the United States you know you know
perfectly well that competition in sports is what makes it interesting you
love competition in politics it’s called democracy competition in economics is
called the free enterprise system which has lifted billions of people out of
poverty since I was a child and in the world of an economy of ideas is the
competition of ideas that actually makes us excellent
so don’t agree ok assignment number one or zero don’t agree okay hold your
opinions here’s the real first assignment think about somebody okay
who’s firing up this country and profiting from making us hate each other
okay think about a public figure get him in
your head or her who’s making us hate each other more every day all right
who’s getting rich from it getting famous from it getting powerful from it
okay I got a person your head that’s the wrong person why because so the person
in your head right now is somebody you disagree with that person has no power
over you now think of somebody who’s doing that that you agree with okay and
there’s somebody all of you me too now make a list here’s assignment number
one make a list of all the people you agree with who are getting rich by
setting American against American alright make a list and now cross them
off your list turn them off stop reading that
columnist stop watching that show you don’t need it it’s not telling you
something you didn’t know it’s just scratching it a little rash
and it’s making you into a worse person furthermore you’re doing that person’s
bidding why should you make somebody more powerful and rich and famous in
this country what we need is to come together
we don’t need being pulled and pulled apart certainly not from somebody else’s
career that’s the Simon number one turn them off assignment number to go find
contempt and bring it to you okay now usually when there’s something terrible
and unpleasant you should avoid it right but that’s not the case in this
situation I was talking to some missionaries one point in and you know
missionaries they have a lot of my respect in my admiration because they
have a job that’s filled with rejection it’s a really hard job you know nobody
ever says hey there’s missionaries on the porch great day you know there’s
always like they’re hiding behind the curtains like pretend we’re not home
right nobody wants missionaries to knock on
their door ever right unless they already have the faith whatever faith
that happens to be right in which case they don’t need the missionaries so if
you want to be a missionary with no rejection you got to get another line of
work you’re all about rejection because
you’re trying to go where people need your faith according to your point of
view right okay that’s a an ironclad principle but it’s not just a religious
principle it’s a principle about how to lift people up if you agree with me the
country needs to come together and that warm-heartedness should be contempt you
need to go where people don’t have the truth and the only place to do that is
going to look for contempt now as one of the side benefit remember you might or
might not change people’s hearts you will change yours you will change yours
and that will make you happier and better that’s a guarantee that you’re
gonna be a happier person if you do this that’s why you really want to but you
have to go find the problem go looking for the problem how are you gonna do
that I have two suggestions so yes to number one on how to find contempt and
embrace it so that you can be happier and maybe change their hearts to number
one is to get a wider circle of friends one of the most alarming trends in
American society today is that we’ve been able to silo ourselves socially in
ways that we weren’t able to do in the past I mean a lot of you who are my age
50 or older you grew up in an area where there was Democrats and Republicans and
and people of different economic classes and we’ve been very very good at not
seeing anybody except people just like us anything well yeah I go to college
well guess what colleges are the same way colleges tend to be hugely spoke
defying ly insular in politics there’s not very much diversity of opinion in
most colleges you don’t have to hear things you disagree with her some
colleges not Dartmouth thank God some colleges are actually basically
shutting down different points of view so that people are not are not exposed
to dangerous or damaging or offensive concepts which of course is you know
crazy in the competition of ideas to do that sort of thing we also can silo our
news feeds we can make sure that our social media all only tells us stuff
that we already believe there’s a natural tendency to do that because the
path at least were ideological resistance isn’t it that’s a mistake go
out and find people who are less likely you and think less like you make a
bigger group of friends hearts hard to do hard to do but it’s really really
worth doing unless what you want to do is never to get stronger never to get
better and never have this opportunity to get happier how do you do that well
you know how to do that Gold places where you’re not invited
where people don’t expect you say things that people aren’t used to and make sure
you always treat people with love and treat people with respect
notwithstanding how they treat you second is there’s a principle for those
of you who are involved in social media is to apply what John Gottman member the
marriage guy I talked about a little bit earlier what John Gottman assigns to his
quarreling couples is called the five to one rule I love this so turns out that
when couples are really quarreling and they might get divorced they have
terrible communication habits they can’t think of anything except negative
criticizing things to say to each other when you’re first in love you can’t
think of anything to criticize about your partner you can’t think of anything
it’s like a she’s perfect man but then when you’re on your way to divorce court
John Gottman says you can’t think of anything except criticisms well that’s a
big problem because criticism brings criticism and it’s negativity all the
time so John Gottman literally makes his couples walk around with notepads okay
and they have the five to one rule which is when you want to criticize your
partner you have to say five loving things first that’s the five to one role
looks like oh man I can’t believe she forgot to pick me up again all right
well okay before I get to that I want you to know I think you look
beautiful right now and I want you to know I just appreciate what you did
yesterday and I want you to know I love your mother forget that and you know and
you know five and here’s a weird thing that John Gottman finds he gets to that
you get to the end of the five beautiful things you forget the criticism do the
five forget the one that’s the bottom line
okay here’s the rule for all of us who are involved in social media you have to
have five beautiful positive affirming complimentary things before you can say
anything negative or criticizing on social media do five to one can you live
up to the five door it’s actually really super hard because if your thing is just
like feeding back on dumb ideas you’re gonna be one to five or one to ten even
go in the wrong direction on this do the five to one rule you will change your
own personality on social media and you’ll be a happier person and people
will see you in a different way will you lose followers yeah probably
that’s okay too that’s the way you want to lose them go out and find contempt
and embrace it because it’s your opportunity to be happier and make other
people happier too okay here’s the last one here’s your
last piece of homework this is real specific express gratitude now you note
that my guy in Texas by the way I never met that guy in Texas
because you know if I actually took him up on his invitation I would probably be
chained to a pipe in his basement in Dallas right now or something like that
right it’s a critic I know it’s like a Craigslist joke but anyway the no but
you know what changed that interaction that well the expression of
warm-heartedness specifically was when I said thank you so grateful to you it was
the expression of gratitude psychologists will tell you the
gratitude is the contempt killer it makes contempt just wither on contact
is very it’s pretty much impossible as your sociopath to hate somebody who’s
giving you who’s expressing thanks to you so so express more gratitude and by
the way it’s the best single way to give you a better life and I got evidence to
that there’s this really kind of cool study from nursing California Santa
Barbara these psychologists they took groups of undergraduates and they broke
them treatment and control what random assignment into two groups okay the
first group they had to make a list of current events like stuff that’s in the
news five things the five top things are in the news the second group the
treatment group they had to make the five top things that they were grateful
for in their lives all right they make a list on Sunday every day at the end of
the day there’s a look at their list for five minutes and think about it and
every Sunday they have to update the list at the end of ten weeks
the gratitude list errs these are randomly assigned the gratitude blisters
are are 25% happier than the current events Lister’s by self-judgement before
and after on their happiness that’s free my friends you actually don’t have an
excuse not to be listening the things that you’re grateful for okay that’s
just how powerful gratitude is for improving your life it’s also incredibly
powerful and making sure that other people treat you in a in a different way
why why not just because of how it affects them but because of how it
affects you and the way that you deal with them there’s this book that
everybody here is over 40 has read and everybody under 30 hasn’t but should
it’s actually the the Bible of self-help it’s called how to win friends and
influence people by Dale Carnegie it sounds so cheesy like a way to bend
people to your will it’s not it’s a guide to ethical courageous moral living
in the way that you treat others a beautiful book and if you haven’t read
it a long time read it again Dale Carnegie in it’s a very simple book but
Dale Carnegie does is he travels all around the United States so he was
writing it in the 20s and 30s he published in 1936 and he he asks the
most famous powerful or successful people just their secrets their secrets
to how they live their lives it’s very simple research design right those of us
were social scientists today with all kinds of problems with that right but
but it’s it’s simple as nice so Dale Carnegie at one point in the book he
goes to a magician in New York named Howard Thurston okay Howard Thurston at
the time was known as the world’s greatest performer he’d been doing the
same tricks for 40 years like eight shows a week
outside of hats and card tricks and he’s still known as the world’s greatest
performer so Dale Carnegie he wants to know not what kind of magic does he do
but how can he still be the world’s greatest performer after doing it you
know like he’s in New York he’s a Broadway how come he doesn’t just like
oh look at these rubes from the Midwest okay doing the tricks and I’m out of
here why is he known to be such a beloved
performer so he goes to see Howard Thurston show and he’s watching and he
notices that Howard Thurston is completely into it
he loves the audience he’s just you’ve done it time after time but he’s so
wound up he’s so geared into the holiday
audiences feeling and seeing so after where Dale Carnegie goes back to his
dressing room I said mr. Thurston I figured it out I understand why the
world’s greatest performer it’s because of your relationship to the audience but
here’s what I want to know how do you do it after 40 years he says oh it’s simple
he says simple before I go out on stage III read a little or I remember a little
meditation I say I am grateful because these people come to see me they make it
possible for me to make my living in a very agreeable way I’m going to give
them the very best I possibly can and then before he goes out on the stage he
tells Dale Carnegie he stops at the footlights he says under his breath I
love my audience I love my audience and it’s show time that’s gratitude and they
could feel it and they could see it and they loved him because he loved them
first funny that had such a big impact
remember that years ago all right and you know what I say every time I come
out on stage before I do a little talk that because you know what I am super
grateful to you here’s the weirdest thing it’s a snowy night in New
Hampshire I’m making my living right now this is my job
I get to stand up in front of smart interested people who love this country
and want to make it better and I get to talk about ways that we can all be
happier and lift up America what’s not to like about that but you know what if
I’m doing it alone in my living room it’s not a quite as satisfying is it
you came to see me I am deeply grateful to you for that I’m truly sincerely
grateful to I hope you can feel it because true that is the secret is the
the ultimate expression of our Martinus and you can do that today you can find
in the next 24 hours an opportunity to face contempt with that kind of warm
heartedness you don’t have to bring somebody else to your to your your
political point of view you simply have to be the person that expresses him or
herself in that way and you’ll see magic happen so last thing I want you to think
of and then I’m gonna turn it over to you because we have some time for your
thoughts you know I wanted to imagine one thing because you know I’ve noticed
I’ve been teaching for a long time that if I can give you an image in your head
you’ll remember things better okay so here’s an image that helps me
remember a lot of these things that we’re talking about my wife and I teach
a class in marriage preparation for couples that are engaged yes and we were
not psychologists but you know what it’s about how to communicate and just live
and married for almost 30 years right and it’s a pretty typical thing we’re
Catholic and Catholics often do that you know older couples or couples a whole
deal and it’s a Catholic retreat center near our house where we where we where
we you know talk to these young couples 25 to 30 couples of a month that we go
through and I noticed one time when we’re leaving this retreat center there
was a sign over the door but it wasn’t a sign when you come in it was a sign when
you go out of the retreat center into the parking lot you uh said you are now
entering mission territory I thought to myself that’s not a religious idea
remember I talked about missionaries but forget the religious part that’s
actually an idea for people who want to share okay so if you’re ready to make a
better country and be happier and make other people happier and to use the
current period of contempt and hatred as an opportunity as opposed to as a
challenge then the way for you to remember it when you leave here tonight
remember just room but just try to imagine it as a sign over these doors
that you’re now entering mission territory thank you all right and I really appreciate all
your coming tonight I can’t wait to hear what’s on your mind yeah your first hand
oh sorry got away from the mic because we’re taping another book came to mind
when you’re talking about the carnie and that was rogered fault robert fulcrums
all I need to know I learned in kindergarten
yeah it’s kind of that same kind of theme of you know sharing playing well
in the sandbox what what has happened that we’ve not learned those at the
beginning if we’re all in this state of of contempt yeah have we simply
forgotten those or we’re not learning those from the from the start well
that’s good question is that something that we didn’t learn or is it something
we’ve forgotten along the way and and you know in American history there’s
there’s kind of uh there’s fluctuations in the way that we treat each other
there’s nothing new about a period of contempt this has happened a bunch of
different times and it’s been much much worse the whole 19th century was
basically a century of contempt I mean we forget I mean or the late 60s early
70s with you know you know torreón marcia before the before the talk today
you know that the late 60s there were 700 domestic bombings domestic bombings
in the united states by internal terrorist organizations and people who
hated each other so much they were willing to put bombs in public places to
blow each other up we’re not even close to that right now
these things actually happen the way that we get back from these periods of
contempt it’s not that we need kindergarten teachers we’re running the
country although you know at this point I’ll take anything it’s what we need are
people remembering their values in the way that we remember our values is with
great and aspirational teachers in other words leaders see what leaders do is
leaders don’t don’t impose values leaders remind you of your values and
call you to your values that’s what great leaders do right I haven’t taught
you anything tonight that you didn’t know everything I’ve talked about
tonight you already knew but I helped you to remember it that’s now when I’m
teaching a class I’m giving a lecture on microeconomic Theory I’m teaching people
things for the first time but when I’m talking about how to bring America
together reminding people things that they
already know and that means what we need is leadership that brings us back here’s
the good news it’s coming it’s coming because we are in a deep political
disequilibrium in this country misery won’t last people don’t like it and are
not gonna put up with it and the thing that we’re about to find is I don’t know
when you know I don’t know which party or when but I think it’s sooner than we
think we’re gonna see people emerging who have the love your enemies theme by
the way if you like this and you want to learn more but this is this just this is
a little talk about a book that’s coming out March 12th called love your enemies
all these ideas in more it’s a how to guys step by step by step by step I
wrote it for leaders on how leaders can be more uniting can be a more harmonious
can bring us actually together here’s the best part that there’s a chapter
booklet out front that has the first chapter of the book and if you want our
donors every time I go on a college campus they send me with these things
and there’s a coupon in the back send it in they’ll send you a free book don’t
even buy it but here’s the deal if you get that you have to do what’s in the
book here’s my deal I need you to actually love your enemies here’s the
trick Martin Luther King said when you love your enemies you realize they
weren’t your enemies after all but anyway that’s getting ahead of myself so
that’s the key thing no we didn’t not learn these things we learned these
things we forgot them and we need people to remind us leaders who are the leaders
you yes sir and we’ll go back here much
needed thank you sir I’ve been thinking about the the family
dinner the family meetings you know Thanksgiving and how we’ve gotten to a
point now where people are either avoiding those either not going or you
know it’s like the third rail to talk about politics and people need the tools
to be able to have those kind of conversations because the last thing we
need is no conversations I think that only is making it worse and yeah I know
it’s it’s a it’s a really good point I have this podcast that and the the first
season which is finished the second season about love and it’s kicking off
on February 14th appropriately the first season which was in 2018 was about the
art of disagreement and we had psychologists on they were talk
about exactly how to deal with this problem I had a whole bunch of you know
people who are specialists in family dynamics John Gottman himself was on the
I was on the podcast so go back and listen to the John Gottman episode or
any of them for that matter and they do indeed say that the the worst thing you
could do is take somebody you love and treat the person with contempt the
second worst thing that you can do is not communicate the key thing really
starts with the way that we listen I mean when you think about it there’s
nothing that’s that worth getting angry about I mean the worst case scenario is
that somebody you love thinks something you don’t think is right all right I
mean why you get so worked up about that it’s not like they say I think you
should die you’re unlikely and look I’m sure that it has been stated at
Thanksgiving dinners throughout history but it’s not usually what we hear we
have to remember and keep our priorities in order
even if we strongly disagree look I hear things that Thanksgiving dinner that I
strongly disagree with it’s okay it’s okay the key is listening with love
listening with a spirit of warm heartedness and with openness that’s the
key it’s like huh why do you think that oh that’s interesting
hmm so and then you know there’s a whole protocol you’re getting this it’s
there’s and learn from these psychologists and the course is doing
the podcast the whole protocol this number one is is making sure the other
person understands that you heard what the person said by talking back by
telling the person so you’re saying this and this and this so look am I correct
that what you really care about is and then state the moral purpose which by
the way you share we virtually all share the key the core moral purposes say okay
I got it you know what worries me and then give your point of view give your
point of view with gentleness and with love and in a spirit of of a gift you
know I want you to hear my point of view because I care about you I want you to
hear it yeah you don’t freeze them out into the circumstances and so it takes
skill right the battering ram is a lot easier but there are ways to do it and
all of this stuff again in this book is just it charts it out chapter and first
do this then do this and do this at a certain point if you got a couple it’s
on the rocks you got to give them instruction
on how to get off the rocks and you know if that’s your Thanksgiving dinner
follow the instructions and it’ll it’ll it’ll go better go better thank you for
that all right who’s next welcome back on this side yes ma’am and
then we’ll come here and then we’ll go back two rows yeah well thank you for
the talk Thanks you open it by talking about people who
have become successful or famous by responding to contempt with further
contempt and then you also say that the way to achieve personal happiness is
through practicing warm-heartedness and responding to hate with more love do you
think also people like that when I speak to them they’re real minority hmm I do
you think that in a world that rewards kind of selfishness or contempt behavior
that people who are truly like inner have inner happiness that they can also
be successful hmm yeah yeah actually I’m quite sure that
people who have a sense of peace that people who have a sense of love can be
incredibly successful that’s a different brand isn’t it I mean that people want
to be around warm-hearted people people will take the contemptuous but the
longer play is love that’s the long term in the long term that’s what people
actually want again if you want a super fast burn
no wonder one of the things I write an awful lot about is is different models
of leaders okay and there’s a guy teaches that at HBS at Harvard Business
School named Daniel Goleman and he he does work on different he does Evert
kinds of leaders of particular coercive leaders and authoritative leaders
coercive leaders are bullies they’re contemptuous and they can be super
successful but they burn out really fast because people don’t like them
then they’re authoritative leaders who have to be more skillful and they have
to be in a really really long play they have to basically be disciplined about
their kindness and about the way that they bring people into the mission right
so look if you’ve got no chops and no skill just scream a whole bunch and get
famous really really fast but you’re gonna fall you’re you’re
you’re gonna be in trouble people will stand up to bullies bullies all
and poorly at the end of the day they always end poorly
the people who are in for the long play can be unbelievably successful and
indeed more successful now sometimes it takes a really really long time
it’s interesting you know what I was just looking at no all these examples of
people who who were loving and warm-hearted and harmonious and holding
a little bit dr. Martin Luther King right when he died he had a 33 percent
favorability rating when he was assassinated
today’s 95 percent that’s a super long play I mean that’s like you know 60
years or so 50 years or 60 years or something after you die that’s kind of
long right it’s good but he didn’t get to get the satisfaction from that but
the end you know what goes around comes around you absolutely can
you must there’s no other way yeah you’ll win the next step like if we can
work on our individual gratitude and compassion and kindness how do we help
bring a community together that is being divided in these times how do we have a
meeting in our home of strangers and start discussing these issues so that
people are listening to each other because I’ve wrestled with that and
tried to do it and it’s tricky it’s really tricky and you’re in New
Hampshire so it’s gonna get worse because all the presidential candidates
are coming through soon they’re probably already here – how many of you already
for president half the hands go up you know I put on social media you know
I’m in Hanover New Hampshire zero degrees or something this morning
something stupid on my Twitter feed and the first the first thing I get back is
he’s running he’s gotta be careful like tomorrow and go to Iowa no and okay so
the key principle of uniting people around a set of ideas is personal
magnetism okay the first thing is drawing people to you as opposed to
compelling people to doing something you will find that people want to
around you when you are like some people will be repelled by it because they want
the fun you know there they’re the hate mongers they’re gonna because she’s no
good but most people are gonna be compelled to beer so like there’s
something there’s personal magnetism about that second is when you actually
try to bring people together around this particular purpose there’s ground rules
that you can set up but there’s also protocols that you can follow one of the
really interesting things is if you actually start if you bring people
together who disagree and you start on a topic that brings up love among them
mutually it’s very difficult to knock them off the love frame so for example
if you talk about before we start this whole thing like we all disagree and all
kinds of stuff right we all disagree but I want you to talk about three things
you’re really grateful for in this country today now not three things
you’re really mad about three things that are really driving you crazy tell
me three things you’re really grateful for in this country and you basically
start by stating overtly stating gratitude it’ll be really really
difficult for people to wreck that meeting somebody can potentially but
that’s one of the things I I strongly recommend the second thing that you can
do is basically say what we are trying to find is not to agree what we are
trying to find is a way that we can listen to each other with love if you
set that as a ground rule it’s very interesting
that’s how cultures of companies actually come about you know in a EEI
we’re not perfect but we have you know we have 300 full-time employees and my
think tank I’ve been president of this place for 10 and a half years and you
know one of the things that we’re not perfect lots of stuff is screwed up you
know we make mistakes the whole thing but the thing that’s great is that
people are super nice to each other super we don’t agree on anything
these are scholars like a college faculty you got you know six college
faculty you can have 25 opinions it’s normal right but everybody’s super
respectful super nice to each other because we have kind of moral ground
rules it’s not cool to be a jerk at AEI and and furthermore it’s unproductive to
be a jerk at a yeah so setting up that so magnetism right protocols and ground
rules and if you do that you will find a lot of good things happen right here in
the back ma’am and then will come right up here
I’m sure you’re familiar with neuro linguistic programming and I’m wondering
if you think there’s any parallel with your approach neural linguistic
programming is that which where you ask people to state particular phrases and
phraseology and and in so doing you Pro you’re basically imprint ideas and ways
of thinking on the brain yeah I mean there’s a lot of that is a lot of what
I’m talking about here it’s amazing how you how self-talk how important it is
you know when you basically one of the things that one of the things I talk
about an awful lot in the book is how the mistake that we make is thinking
that attitude that action follows attitude if I feel a certain way then I
act a particular way that’s that’s pretty much backward from reality you
can change your attitude by your action and so one of the things that I
recommend to people is when you don’t feel grateful act grateful fake
gratitude and you’ll start feeling grateful it’s really crazy and part of
this is how cognitive behavioral therapy has treated people who are depressed
over the years you know one of the things that that I find really
remarkable is that that cognitive behavioral therapy in case of the
depression one of the pieces of advice that they would give people who are
really depressed is to pretend they’re not depressed act like depressed
non-depressed people act get up normal time take off your pajamas shave your
man go out of the house talk to somebody you could be just really really
depressed but when you act this way why by the way there’s a lot of this
neurological research that shows that you will illuminate the part of the
prefrontal cortex that’s more active and non-depressed people by simply mimicking
non-depressed people this is key there’s if there’s a whole area of research
there’s a French physiologist in the late nineteenth century named name
Duchenne who mapped out the human’s smile finding it there nineteen types of
human smiles all around the world and and it’s not culturally determined it’s
its physiological it’s human and there’s only one of those smiles that’s
associated with true human happiness it’s called the Duchenne smile after I’m
so awesome and the only happy smiles got your name on it’s great like
Brooks family lecture but even happier all right so the Duchene smile what is
it how can you tell somebody’s happy not by the mouth of the ice because the
corners of the eyes crinkle up when you see somebody who’s 90 and was really
pronounced crow’s-feet like that’s the person to go hang out with because
that’s the person who’s been smiling a Duchenne smile a lot
your goal is crow’s feet right okay so if you’ll want to feel happier here’s
the interesting stuff work from the 1990s suppose the 1890s did work on the
Duchenne smile and found that when you when you stimulate it and the way to
stimulate it by the way it’s actually holding a pencil outward in your mouth
and smiling will you hold a pencil in that will involuntarily crinkle up the
corners of your eyes you start feeling happier so it’s the happy smile brings
happiness it’s not just that the happiness brings the happy smile this is
there’s lots of stuff in this talk like happy people talk like grateful people
express yourself look like what people do when they’re acting warm-hearted and
soon enough you’re gonna be a different person that’s the bottom line and and
and I have reengineered myself using this I’ve changed my life using these
principles who’s next Yeah right here yeah hello again hey
thank you so much for coming to speak with us today thanks I think I was a
little bit saddened to think of how easily it was to come up with a list in
my mind of the type of people who capitalize on our feelings of contempt
and so I’m wondering if you could help me construct another list in my mind
with some people who serve as models of this behavior of gratitude and kind
heartedness in today’s world yeah no I appreciate that an awful lot the good
news is really in a weird way that’s an easier model come easier list to come up
with because these are people around you that you respect and admire right you
actually even if you agree with somebody who’s on cable TV who’s firing people up
and creating a lot of hate you might like it your favorite columnist who says
the other side is stupid and evil you might be like yeah yeah but you don’t
actually admire it in its way but there are professors that you have that you
admire there are people that you actually see in public life there are
historical figures that you admire you know Doris Kearns Goodwin has this
really beautiful new book called leadership and she talks about people
who have in it just through sheer aspiration have been able to do two
things lift people up and bring them together you read that you go wow that’s
a good list there are lots of people like that who are these people these
people who did the long term work who doesn’t you know stayed at it stayed at
it all these years and here’s the best part you learn about those people you
read the the profiles of the people who’ve gotten very famous doing it or
the people around you that are not famous but nonetheless are leaders in
their world who display these characteristics and you can learn how
you can be on that list too at the end of the day which list you want to be on
right the list of the people that you meyer the list of the people that you
don’t and what I would recommend as your 4th homework assignment therefore is you
made your hate Lister’s make your love Lister’s to the people that you want to
you want to emulate more and then help and pray that you’re on somebody else’s
list right back here in blue blue shirt then we’ll come back up in front yeah
yeah so you talked a little bit about a like re-engineering yourself and sort of
like different phases of your life and I’m curious especially about like the
music one yeah and how that relates to who you are
today and your your kind of thoughts on that thank you are you a musician
no tone-deaf you like music though right yeah so thanks for asking that you know
it had a huge impact on what I do but in a weird way
so Europeans almost think that we’re nuts because we all have these weird
aspirations and ambitions the United States when I was nine years old I
decided I was going to be the world’s greatest French horn player like weird
right I literally had pictures of famous French horn players in my room for
inspiration I practiced hours a day it was all I wanted to do I didn’t know I
didn’t care about anything else except classical music and playing the French
horn I did all the way through high school I mean I was just single-mindedly
focused when I was 19 I left College under pretty dubious
circumstances but I went I went you know I dropped out kicked out splitting hairs
and and you know I went on the road playing the French horn right and you
know it was I got to my late 20s and I was by this time I was in the Barcelona
symphony Barcelona Spain I was married a lot of my life was
really really happy but I wasn’t happy in my work I couldn’t figure out why and
then I figured it out here’s how I figured it out I was reading a biography
of my favorite composer Johann Sebastian Bach so some of you love you know maybe
you don’t know anything about classical music
you know Bach right everybody knows Bach okay and here’s what I knew his music
but I know anything about him in Bach’s biography you know this is
recorded by a biographer who’s relatively lost to history the question
was why do you write music you know you’re all successful in your lives and
your work and your studies and people ask you what do you do live study I’m a
student at Dartmouth College fantastic right I have a business I sell real
estate I’ve done great alright nobody ever asks you why do you do what you do
and the Bott question why do you do what you do do you have an answer do you
actually have an answer about why you’re doing what you’re doing you need an
answer because that’s the moral purpose of your life everything else is just a
list of products how boring and so Bach was asked why do you write
music here’s his answer the aim and final end of all music is nothing less
than the glorification of God and the refreshment of the soul I thought to
myself yeah yeah that’s it that’s it but it’s like a knife to the heart because I
couldn’t say that look if you’re not a religious person don’t be distracted
Bach is saying that the purpose of your work is serving others if it’s not
you’re wasting your life has pot and I wasn’t I wasn’t so you know what I left
music Bachmann me into an economist it’s so crazy you know I mean it’s like from
the sublime to the dismal um because I wanted to find something
where I could serve where I could actually serve and and and it’s it’s for
the longest time you know I had I left music when I finally was 31 years old
and I went to graduate school the whole thing and and I kind of felt like I’d
failed and I didn’t talk about it for a long time but you know where that led it
led to here tonight talking to you about these types of things which I never
would have been able to do before what music did is it gave me a
discipline in a sense of excellence and appreciation of truth and beauty and how
close these things are to each other and most importantly my favorite composer
taught me how important it is that I use all of my work and all my endeavor to
serve other people and that brought me to where I am today and that really I
think maybe the man who I am today thank you for that that’s a wonderful question
I appreciate it a lot all right who’s next
yes sir no mic next to you yes I’d like to you’ve been a lot in the abstract yet
and I’d like to move a little bit maybe more to a very walk us through something
very practical and we’ll take some hot topic
well hot-button topic we’ll say abortion against non abortion so how are two
people going to deal with that without getting in each other’s face okay so
this happens a lot right and your first alternative is just to either avoid it
or treat each other with contempt throw bombs and walk off right those things
you think we already established that that’s not the best way to conduct your
Thanksgiving dinner so how do you actually deal with it under the
circumstances first thing to realize is because somebody disagrees with you on
this does not make that person automatically horrible can you cross
that Rubicon to say that a lot of people can’t yet how do you do that by
establishing that we share a lot of moral principles we share all that their
manifest in very different ways the other thing is to recognize that it’s
incredibly impractical to try to insult somebody else into agreement if you want
somebody to to appreciate your point of view
god forbid share your point of view insulting that person is a
self-defeating strategy so as a practical matter and as a realistic
matter you have to start looking for some of the moral principles
that we have in common one of the ways that I do when when I when I adjudicated
these basically these marital disputes and ideological disputes ideological
debates along these lines because I asked people to state the other person’s
moral point of view I want you to say what that other person actually believes
and what they’ll almost always do is caricature it and talk about it well
it’s like this person thinks that you know the they they don’t really care
that much about the lives of babies unless I’m sorry that’s not their moral
point of view try again try again and so what I’m doing is bringing people
together is to give them a state each other’s moral point of view in terms
that are as charitable as possible let’s say now that you don’t have a marriage
counselor like me in the room how do you do it find how you can most charitably
state the other person’s point of view what can I do that does it’s not ad
hominem that doesn’t caricature that doesn’t that doesn’t actually display
bitterness and when that person says yes that actually is my point of view you
will find that you have the beginnings of some shared moral experience and from
shared moral experience you can agree to disagree on a lot without hating each
other as people there’s tons of stuff that we’re not going to agree on in this
country that’s perfectly fine to not agree in all kinds of stuff as a country
no problem one of the circumstances we can we can run a democracy without
deciding if pro-life people in pro-choice people don’t come together on
that issue we can go decade after decade after
decade without deciding on that issue and still have a successful democracy
what we can’t have is a happy country we’re actually making progress as long
as one side says the other side is evil under the circumstances and that’s what
we have to defeat so those are the ways that I actually go about doing that
now what I ordinarily do is I’m most critical of people who have my point of
view on that issue who are caricature in the other side why because of the moral
principle that we talked about before which is standing up to your own side on
behalf of people on the other side and that’s a very tricky thing to do as well
but I’ve done it and I did it just recently in university I was in Furman
University in South Carolina and we had a whole big debate exchanged on the
internet of where somebody who had my point of view
on that issue was caricaturing and very destructive in a very wrongheaded way
because it didn’t it didn’t actually it didn’t it didn’t it wasn’t actually
characteristic of the other person’s true point of view it was the cartoon
version of it which meant that debate was impossible from the first principles
that’s how I cope with that I mean it’s like and guess what we won’t agree and
guess what else that’s okay Andrew thank you for being here thanks
I’m gonna try to react to supply-side fanatics as warm-hearted ly as I can but
if they refuse to abide by the principles that you’ve laid out how do I
actually get them to stop spending the next generations money hmm how do I do
that well you know we have to when somebody is actually doing something in
public policy you think is very destructive in a democracy where we have
a vibrant civil society and we’re not on the brink of Civil War you have to
create a coalition of people who agree with you and you have to win politically
that doesn’t mean you have to insult the people who disagree with you you know to
be bitter or contemptuous to the people who disagree with you but you have to
get more people who agree with you okay now this is a really interesting thing
for my opponent you look so I run this think tank his think tank is based on
two moral principles the equality of human dignity and the limitlessness of
human potential and I strongly believe that the American free enterprise system
is really good for those goals really good best system we’ve ever you and I
agree on this best system we’ve ever come up with to to sister of those goals
right okay so I’m thinking of myself how do I get more people to agree with me
cuz I’m not gonna beat other people in the submission I’m not gonna insult
other people into agreement I need more people to follow me you believe this is
a mit-trained public finance economist you’re right you need more people to
follow you how you gonna do it okay well the world is made up on supply-side
economics of four groups I’m not going to talk about supply-side economics I’m
gonna talk about Marketing now okay group number one the
true believers the Andrews agree with your point of view think you’re right
and smart and good-looking okay group number to the persuadable
I’m willing to listen I don’t know what is supply-side economics I’m kind of
interested your students group number three the hostels hinder is wrong and
who’s stupid Andrews evil and the epithet eccentric they don’t care
they’re trying to get to a soccer practice or require rehearsal to get
dinner on the table supply-side economics boring okay so what do we want
to do you feel strongly about this because you’re man you got the data and
your cause is just you can just fire up the true believers all day long and
tried it through sheer power politics to get to get a coalition of people
together and vanquish the other side utterly bad bad move that’s what we’re
doing in America today and you see how great it is we all love each other and
everything’s fine and harmonious right it’s like oh okay what’s a better way to
do it to improve the true believers making them better making them more
effective making them more winsome right by giving them better points of view
what do you do with your persuadable you persuade them how do you persuade
persuade Nobles here’s the magic you go to the hostels and treat them with love
and respect and the persuadable x’ will see it this is the biggest like the
scales fell from my eyes when I became the president of ATI I you know I said I
realized through trial and error and making lots of mistakes that when I
actually went places where I was not invited and said things that people
don’t expect that the persuadable x’ were watching and that’s when I got
converse to what I think is good and true and just it’s weird it’s like I
write for the Washington Post and before that I wrote for the New York Times I
don’t do it because you know I think that people are gonna be super nice to
me in the comments section cuz you know it’s if I could write a column called I
love puppies and I would be denounced as the fascist in the comments section of
these newspapers right I do it because when I’m going places where people
disagree with my one of you about about capitalism about
free enterprise about lifting people up through these means and I do it with
love and respect and I confront people who were hostile and I say look I got
your point of view you care about the poor I love that I think I’m a better
way of doing it persuadable ‘he’s come along and that’s
how you actually bring more people to your cause and peacefully and
democratically and respectfully you actually can win the day who’s next
that was a long marketing answer yes sir right in the back I hope I can say this
in a fashion that it’s understood I hear what you say and I agree with you 100%
since modern industry has come into being the fortune 500 have had retreats
every year in the thousands every retreat has someone who deals with
interpersonal relationships and yet from my own personal perspective and I was
involved with that too because I was in industry my my whole career my own
personal perspective is that the situation hasn’t improved one iota
in fact it’s gotten worse I think that in a in addition or in conjunction with
what you are promoting on an individual basis there is something that we can do
that’s going to have a much more profound impact and that is if we take
up the root cause of why some of these things exist and essentially that root
cause is education when we have a control when we have a system of school
districts where there’s a disparity in the contributions of money to to
students you’re going to have a huge disparity in the ability of the people
in some categories to really understand what’s going on on their own
having that any kind of an a personal relationship so I personally draw the
cock concentrate my effort on trying to promote something like education for
everyone so that we learn and teach respect we don’t worry too much about
integration because I think that’s something I think that’s just a lost
cause but we teach respect and we teach people to be able to think somewhat
critically if we can get to the point where the majority of our people here in
this country think that way then I think we can make a major contribution until
then I think what you’re promoting is ideal but I don’t think it’s gonna have
a huge huge impact on the final results that we’re trying to achieve thank you
for that I appreciate that sir it is absolutely true that we need an
education system that’s not just uniform but one that actually treats that that
that teaches principles of ethical citizenship and respect I mean and and
that’s not what we do today and it’s extraordinary they actually we’re going
in the other direction from what we do today where would I start that if I can
only if worldwide universally integrate if I can’t do that where do I want to
look I want to look at the most likely next generation of leaders and I’m
looking here this is one of the great colleges in this country to what extent
is it promoting the principles of universal solidarity of ideological
diversity of respect and love for people who disagree pretty good but it could
always be better I mean this is why this is so important what this is like the
Brookstone would lecture you’re bringing people like me here but to what extent
can this college actually be a beacon of bringing people together who disagree in
a very constructive in a very public way and in so doing teach the next how many
students are here 5,000 6,000 students the next 6,000 students who are going to
be leaders in industry leaders in politics leaders in the nonprofit sector
leaders in government that this is the right ethos
and this is the right culture that this is actually the future of the country
the extent that that we can dedicate in place like this to that then it very
least we’re trying to get some leverage thank you for that all right oh it looks
like we’re just about out of time and I hear it’s still snowing outside so I
hope that you have a safe drive home and you’ll give these things some thought if
you do want to copy the book send it a little card it will send you a book
delighted too if you want I’ll even done all them sign it and but the last thing
I’d like you to do is to join me in thanking the Brooks family for making
this evening possible

4 thoughts on “The Brooks Family Lecture: “Bringing America Together”

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