American Public MediaClick to go to Being's home page.Being E-mail Newsletter
The Vitality of the Struggle
Krista's Journal: February 3, 2011

About the Image (photo: Cheryl Himmelstein)

Out and About » Facebook » Twitter » Flickr » Vimeo » YouTube

Being Blog We take submissions!

Christians Join Hands To Protect Muslims During Prayers» Photo Triptych of Possibilities in Cairo Christians protecting Muslims during prayer and the mundane act of picking up the trash. Great on-the-scene photos from Nevine Zaki.

Religious Coexistence» It's an Honor to Watch Your Truth Stand Up A magnificent reflection capturing the sentiment many of us are experiencing as we watch the protests in Egypt from afar.

Sharon Salzberg» Meditation and Mindfulness for All of Us: Six Questions with Sharon Salzberg Answers to our questions on techniques and focus, and the balance of new technologies with human connection.

» The Oldest Living Canadian

Wangari Maathai» Trees Give Meaning to Mystery and Life: Our Interview with Wangari Maathai The parable of the hummingbird, the loss of sacredness through the destruction of forests, and deeper religious truths through science.

» Visions of Islam in Egypt: From the Muslim Brotherhood to Shariah Law A helpful primer on the Muslim Brotherhood — its history and potential role in Egypt — with Haroon Moghul on

Old Miss Students Protesting against Integration» The Struggle for Change and the Struggle to Resist Change: Untold Stories from Mississippi The little-told history of white Mississippians who tried to preserve segregation.

» Charles Wright Reads "Together" 34 seconds of Charles Wright reading his poem "Together" for PBS NewsHour.

» What Will the Muslim Population Look Like in 2030? Pakistan surpasses Indonesia. Palestinian women flip a trend on its head. A new poll from the Pew Forum.

Vincent Harding» Twitterscript of Vincent Harding Interview

Upcoming Broadcasts: Hopes, Dreams, and Demonstrations (February 10) With anthropologist Scott Atran, we pull back the lens from the dramatic events on the streets of Egypt and elsewhere as we explore the human and historic impulses behind this moment and the response it asks of the watching world.

Transcripts Words matter. We provide free transcripts for you to read and print. » Opening to Our Lives with Jon Kabat-Zinn » Listening Beyond Life and Choice with Frances Kissling » Quarks and Creation with John Polkinghorne » Words That Shimmer with Elizabeth Alexander

Unheard Cuts Hear what we left out of the program. Download mp3s of all of Krista's unedited interviews. Here are some of the latest: » Jon Kabat-Zinn » Frances Kissling » John Polkinghorne » Elizabeth Alexander

About onBeing Hosted by Krista Tippett, the public radio program is heard weekly on radio stations around the country, bringing a wide range of intelligent religious ideas and voices into American life.

Contact Us We'd love to hear your comments or suggestions about the e-mail newsletter and our website. Let us know how we're doing!

This week on public radio's conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas:

The Vitality of the Struggle Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist and writer, a biologist by training with a literary mind. She comes from a long Mormon lineage in Utah. And she takes the interior American West as her center of political, spiritual, and creative gravity.

As part of our ongoing series on civil conversation and civil practices, she sheds light on the West as a particular crucible of American divides. Terry Tempest Williams offers up notions of neighborliness, sacred rage, and beauty as an act of survival. And she tells of collaborative, citizen-led change that defies headlines of impasse and hostility.

Krista Tippett, host of Being

This Moment of Dynamic, Unfolding Human Change It's fascinating how we are always surprised when the world changes — though there is no more certain prediction than that it will. As we were producing this week's show, the latest installment in our "Civil Conversations Project," young people started flooding the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and beyond. Within a matter of days, they had unsettled regimes that have held unquestioned power for decades and set off other ripple effects that are far from over.

This is at once exhilarating, hopeful, terrifying, and painful to behold. And the question I want to ask is: What understanding is it asking of those who are watching? What context do we need to see the human dynamics and implications at play here? And what wise response can we offer?

We are taking on these questions in next week's show with Scott Atran. He has been listening to the hopes and dreams of young people from Indonesia to Egypt for a decade. As an anthropologist, he's sought to understand the human impulses that drive them into, as well as away from, religious and political radicalism. He sees some of these same impulses now finding expression in movements for democracy.

In some sense, the current events in Egypt have completely overshadowed our recent domestic concerns about creating civility in a political life, which, by comparison, is extraordinarily vital and peaceful. And yet, my conversation with Scott Atran points at the way in which these two pursuits in fact are deeply connected.

Even as those young people are filled with hopes and dreams, they long for examples, for proof that it is possible to realize them. As much as they want our political leaders to engage their political leaders now, they want us to show them ways of being as a nation and civil society.

This week's guest, Terry Tempest Williams, is very different kind of voice to add to the list of people this series has offered: Frances Kissling, Richard Mouw, Elizabeth Alexander, and others to come in the spring. First of all, she is absolutely formed by the place she inhabits — Utah, the interior American west. One of the gifts of this interview is how she opens up the contours of geographic difference that we sometimes forget among all of our other differences as a nation, as a people.

Our conversation is full of lovely and useful images — from the natural world, from unlikely civic collaborations, and from Terry Tempest Williams' own family, which is a kind of microcosm of American divides.

Just as Elizabeth Alexander offered up words and questions from the medium of poetry, for example, Terry Tempest Williams opens up her own mediums of language and idea. Her book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, traces human fragmentation and its antidotes from her experiences in a village in Rwanda to her observations of white-tailed prairie dogs in the American desert, to a pilgrimage she took to the Italian city of Ravenna to learn the ancient art of mosaic.

Mosaic, she observes, is "a conversation between what is broken." I find this a helpful, and more immediately realizable, aspiration than "healing" for our national and international lives in this moment of dynamic unfolding human change.

I Recommend Reading: Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams