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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

What’s Your Chance Encounter with Difference?

by Susan Leem, associate producer

In my late teensOur thought experiment for the week: draw on your own memories of a simple human encounter — unlikely relationships with non-like-minded people — that you may not have pondered as formative and important.

Listen to Anthony Appiah's story — recounted in the audio above (mp3, 1:17) — about his neighbor. Before he became a renowned philosopher, he described himself as a “lefty” kid who became very fond of a “right-wing” neighbor and member of British Parliament despite their very disparate views. And it was luck that brought the pair together.

How might we encourage or inspire these kinds of encounters in our own lives, or for our children? Share your thoughts here and let’s talk about these chance encounters together.

And for those of you who prefer to read it rather than hear it, here’s the transcript:

"One of the great lessons of my childhood of which I’m extremely grateful for was that, when my grandmother got older, she moved from the bigger house that she lived in into the cottage next door and she sold the big house to a man who was a member of the British Parliament and was very right-wing, but extremely nice and very nice to me.

You know, I had a subscription to the Soviet News and the Peking Review. I was a young lefty, but he was incredibly nice to me. He was not only nice, but he was willing to talk to me about politics and he was willing to let an 18-year-old whatever I was — young man — talk to him about politics and say things that he obviously thought were, you know, and he told me what he thought. He was frank. I mean, he didn’t pretend to believe things that he didn’t believe.

I learned a lot. I had to admit that I liked this guy even though I thought he was wrong about everything, and that was luck. It was luck that I had that experience when I was young.”

About the image above: Anthony Appiah in his late teens circa the time he met his new neighbor. (courtesy of Anthony Appiah)


What Do You Think Williams’ Mother Meant by Giving Her Those Journals?

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

spiralsThis bit of audio from our Terry Tempest Williams interview has us all mystified. It resulted in this “thought experiment” among our staff, which led to wildly varying interpretations.

Take a listen to this confounding story about the journals her mother left her:

What do you think Williams’ mother was trying to say about herself? To tell her daughter?

What do those pages say about “voice” to the rest of us?

I’ve told and retold this story to many of my friends and family, and each person has a distinct take on what it all means, but they all ask with a wrinkled brow: Why? Why? Why? I’m anxious to hear your interpretation because I can easily come up with a half-dozen theories.