As I’ve said before, one benefit of my job is meeting new people and encountering new perspectives. In early 2020, I was in another city for meetings (strange to think that was the last time I was on a plane!), which started with several of the attendees gathering at a pub for supper. (As all good meetings should begin.)
The host suggested that as we introduced ourselves, we could also each share a book, article or podcast that we were enjoying. As a result, I walked away from dinner with a bunch of reading and listening suggestions.
One of the recommended podcasts was Making Sense, which I’ve subscribed to ever since. It’s hosted by an American guy named Sam Harris who has a PhD in neuroscience. Sometimes, Sam annoys the hell out of me. At other times, I appreciate his point of view. And I’m almost always impressed by the fascinating guests he brings on his show.
I don’t care if you ever listen to another thing from Sam in your life, but his first podcast of 2021 is worthy of your time. In only 30 minutes (or 25-ish if you stop listening before he starts trying to sell you a subscription), Sam demonstrates what I’ve been trying to write about for two years: that if we pick sides and don’t regularly examine our own views, we’re headed for big trouble.
Do I agree with every word he says? No.
Is he biased because of his own life experience? Yes.
Does he criticize or make fun of things I support? Yes.
Does he criticize or make fun of things I’m against? Yes.
That is the whole point of listening. Not just the point of listening to Sam’s podcast, but the whole point of listening, period. Find some people who are different. Listen to things you don’t agree with. Listen to things you never would have imagined about others’ experiences. Listen so your own beliefs are challenged. Listen to give your brain a workout.
We have brains for a reason, and the reason is NOT for Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook colleagues to sell billions of dollars of ads based on our eyeballs, as their algorithms keep serving us more of the things we already like…until we’re locked so far inside our own echo-chambers that we can’t find each other.