In these volatile days, as we continue to be tossed between grief and anxiety, we could all use an anchor in a gentle voice of reason. For me, that comes from the American journalist, author and entrepreneur Krista Tippett, most famously the host of the On Being podcast. Listening to it is now as much part of my morning routine as yoga and exercise, a much needed pause from the travails of the news cycle, a chance to focus on the big questions about the human condition.
Launched in 2003 as a radio show to discuss faith and spirituality with the same ardour we bring to dissecting politics and economics, On Being goes far beyond religious discourse now. Each week, Tippett invites one guest (usually a writer, poet, artist or other professionals from across the creative spectrum) to speak about the quests and key themes of their lives and work.
The discussion unfolds along secular lines, focusing on the person's interests and experiences, though spirituality, especially its place in modern life, is the central thread that ties together these deep dives. In spite of the gentleness and humour with which the conversations are conducted, there is no attempt to paper over difficult topics. Tragedies and regrets are spoken of with grace, as successes and achievements are celebrated with poise.
One of the aims of On Being is to recalibrate our energies towards having more civil conversations. Instead of picking on scabs and wounds that scar society, it tries to being about social healing through paying attention to people who have spent their lives making sense of the world around. From poets like Mary Oliver and Michael Longley to writers like Alain de Botton and Ocean Vuong—a galaxy of sparking minds, sharing their wisdom and advice, may fortify you against the fever and fret of the world a little better.
On Being can be listened to on whichever platform you get your podcasts from.