Fostering Understanding in Our Community: How Can We Unite?
A Psychological Perspective - Watch the Recording


 

 

Our Distinguished Speaker: Dr. Justin A. Frank

Author of the best-selling books Trump on the Couch, Obama on the Couch, and Bush on the Couch, and recent guest on the national television shows for Thom Hartmann and Joy Reid, Justin A. Frank M.D. is a highly regarded psychoanalyst and teacher. A clinician with more than thirty year's experience, Dr. Frank used the principles of applied psychoanalysis to assemble comprehensive psychological profiles of our last three presidents. Dr. Frank currently writes a biweekly column for Time.com. He also contributes to HuffingtonPost.com, DailyBeast.com and Salon.com, and is a frequent writer and speaker on topics as diverse as politics, film, and theater. He is a former Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, and the co-director of the Metropolitan Center for Object Relations in New York. Dr. Frank did his psychiatric residency at Harvard Medical School and was chief resident at the Cambridge Hospital. He was awarded the DuPont-Warren Fellowship by Massachusetts General Hospital. He lives in Washington DC.

Cornell Morton:

Good evening. Welcome. My name is Cornell Morton and I'm privileged to be President of the Diversity Coalition, San Luis Obispo County. On behalf of the board of directors, we are very, very excited and pleased to have you join us tonight for what I know will be a very interesting, informative, and hopefully inspiring dialogue conversation. Most of you know, of course, that the coalition has been around since March of 2011, that we are a nonprofit organization interested first and foremost in providing opportunities for conversation, opportunities for advocacy and the development of a community as we call it that fosters understanding across difference. The coalition was formed essentially or initially as the Five Cities Diversity Coalition. We're now referred to as the Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County. That initiative was underway back in March of 2011 when in Arroyo Grande, a number of citizens responded to a very tragic hate crime, a hate crime directed at a family of color, an African-American family who awoke and found a cross burning in their front yard.

            Of course, law enforcement intervened. Others intervened. But most importantly or just as importantly, a number of people came together to support that family. I think it's notable that this month, March 2021, four years ago, Dr. David Kahn, who was one of those people who helped to found the organization just back in 2017 now, Dr. Khan passed away suddenly. But we remember David for all the good work that he did and we remember others who have done good work in this county and who've passed on. We also want to acknowledge the volunteers and people who work with us, the collaboration we have underway. And Kathy's going to talk a bit more about all of that, especially related to the work we're doing with local schools.

            I want to mention as I close off here very quickly... and I'll say something about this again, at the end of our program... on May 6 at 6:00 PM, we'll host another dialogue. This will be a conversation about human rights, and we're very happy to know that we will very likely have human rights lawyers join us. So then we'll talk about the original United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which is now referred to as a United Nations Human Rights Council. But that ought to be an interesting discussion. I would just have you make note of that on May 6, 6:00 PM. So I'll stop there and I will introduce [Kathy Me 00:03:15], Chair of our Education Committee. And again, thank you so much for being with us. We're always excited to have numbers like I see here on the board show up, and it's great to have our speaker with us tonight. Dr. Justin Frank will be introduced later. Thank you.

Kathy Me:

Okay. Thank you, Cornell. I'd like to update all of you on what the Education Committee has done since our last meeting. As you know, the distance learning and uncertainties faced by teachers and administrators this past year has made it very difficult to achieve the goals for our speaker program that we've had in the past. That said, we were able to bring Fanshen Cox speaking about race and ethnicity to the Morro Bay High School students last semester via Zoom. And last month we brought Rita Lurie, a Holocaust survivor to Lucie Mar School District, and Ben Furuta, a Japanese American internment survivor, to Morrow Bay high school students, both via Zoom. We hope to restart our speaker program in earnest next school year. In addition, the Education Committee is again providing scholarships for the peace Academy summer school. This is for kindergarten through second graders. In the past, its student body has represented nine languages and several faith backgrounds, and ethnicities.

            We feel it's so important to immerse our children in diversity at that young age. So please go to Peace Academy, slo.org if you'd like more information on their programs. and now on to tonight's program. As our speaker is presenting, if a question pops into your head, we encourage you to type it into our Q&A tab right away, and we'll get to it when our presenter is finished. If you'd just like to make a comment, use the chatroom feature for that.

            Okay. After January 6th, I was watching... excuse me... the Thom Hartmann program, a national show on Free Speech TV. His guest that day was Dr. Frank speaking about mob mentality. At one point, Thom Hartmann asked Dr. Frank, "Should we just agree not to talk politics with our friends?" And Dr. Frank's response surprised both me and Thom Hartmann. He answered, "No. We have to discuss politics." He went on to give his thoughts and insights about that and I thought, "We have to spread the word about this," and that's what we're helping to do tonight.

            Dr. Justin Frank is the author of the bestselling books Bush on the Couch, Obama on the Couch, and Trump on the Couch. And he's been a recent guest numerous times on the Thom Hartmann show and the Joy [Reid 00:06:35] show. He's a highly-regarded psychoanalyst and teacher and clinician with more than 30 years experience. He currently contributes to huffingtonpost.com, dailybeast.com, and salon.com. He's a former clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center and the co-director of the Metropolitan Center for Object Relations in New York. Dr. Frank did his psychiatric residency at Harvard medical school and was chief resident at the Cambridge Hospital. He was awarded the DuPont Warren fellowship by Massachusetts General Hospital. He lives in Washington, DC, where he's Zooming to us from tonight. So please extend a warm welcome to Dr. Justin Frank. Thank you, Doctor.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Okay. Thank you. Nice to be here. Let me see if I can move this thing around. So it's really hard to figure out how to talk with people who are at great divergence from one's own politics. So I'd like to start with... I'm going to talk for about half an hour and then we'll have plenty of time for discussion, which I enjoy much more than hearing my own voice. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote about two men who were conversing. And the first one said, "I hate that man." And the second one asked "Why?" And the first one answered, "Because I don't know him." And over the past five years, Americans have begun to act as if they don't know one another anymore. As former friends and family members have become strangers, we don't talk together. We're a nation polarized, even among friends and family, and it's really a problem.

            So what I'd like to do first is... I'm a psychoanalyst, so I'd like to offer my views about how we got this way. And the fact is that there are multiple psychological sources of how we got this way, but I wanted to say at the start to go over a little history because we've always been, to some extent, a divided nation, even though we're called the United States. Our division right now is the worst it's been probably since the beginning of the Civil War in 1860. So that's 161 years ago. And then there was a split between the North and the South, as everybody knows. But what's interesting is even terminology was different from the two sides in that war. People from the North call it the Civil War, which is what most of us know it as. But people from the South always called it the War of Northern Aggression. It was not called the Civil War.

            So the War of Northern aggression is a very interesting name because it means that the people who were aggressed against, the South, were innocent and were attacked by the North. It's an early example of blaming other people for attacking you and feeling self-righteous in your defense and that there was no reason to be attacked. And that's one of the divisions that I think people have that we need to talk about because we have a chasm, I think, in this country, unlike we've ever seen since that time. There were other splits between groups like unions and management. During the 1880s, there was the Pullman Strike. There were shootings. Union members were shot and scabs were beaten up. And it was a very tense time in terms of a struggle between groups. And again, all management was bad to the unions, and all unions were bad to the management.

            And in fact, I'm reminded as I'm saying this of having met a lawyer politically when I first moved to DC, and I was telling him about a fight I was having with my landlord for my psychiatry office. And he looked at me and he said, "All landlords are pigs, unless of course your client is a landlord and then all tenants are pigs." So that's sort of part of the human psyche.

            In 1917, there was the Russian Revolution, which you all know about. And that led to an incredible red scare in this country where people were shot, arrested. There's a famous trial of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1920, and they were executed in 1927 as anarchist bastards. There was a great fear of Communism. And when Roosevelt took over during the Great Depression, people were afraid of him because they were afraid he was going to turn America into a Socialist country even though he came from a wealthy family.

            The fear of Communism persisted, as we all know. It was there as a huge split in the 1950s with Joseph McCarthy accusing everybody. And I'm reminded of a comedian then, Mort Sahl, who was making fun of the Congress people who were so afraid. And McCarthy said that the government is full of Communists and homosexuals. And one of the congressmen timidly raised his hand and said, "Mr. McCarthy, is it possible to belong to both groups?" So that's sort of where we've been. And then we had the Vietnam War. We had the Southern law projects and Southern voting. We had splits and in the '60s, there was a famous slogan which was, America, Love it or Leave it. And that was a Barry Goldwater type comment.

            So we've had a long history of paranoid splits. And what's important about the splits is that they're absolute. You are monolithically good or monolithically bad. There is nothing in between. So what I want to talk about is the psychology a little bit of those splits and where they come from both in individuals and in groups because one of the things that is important is to talk about how we've become such a tribal nation and so divided. But the original... We have one of the people in the group here. I just had a baby. It was a month old. And I remember that one of the great things about babies is they love to nurse. They love to be held. They love to be cuddled. But when they're cold or hungry, they might cry and demand that the mother be there immediately. But what happens to a baby is that eventually the baby gets a little bit conflicted inside between good and bad, between hunger and satiety, between being warm and cuddly or being cold and needing one's diaper changed. So there's good and bad experiences.

            And the problem with the baby is that the bad experiences, he cannot tolerate the fact that the bad experiences have something to do with his mother. So he projects the bad experiences into the world, meaning he starts experiencing other people as being dangerous. He has stranger anxiety at around eight months and that persists in one form or another even to the present day because we all have a bit of the baby inside of us. And there's a lot of stranger anxiety that was mentioned in my opening quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

            But that's where we are. We are in a situation of either or. And what happens in growth and development is that eventually the baby realizes that his mother is maybe not perfect. And sometimes she's late. Sometimes she doesn't do the right thing and he doesn't know what to do with those feelings because he can get angry at the same person that he also loves and cherishes and wants to keep.

            And so what happens is the baby starts developing a new kind of anxiety, which is about having to tolerate and manage loving and hating the same person, loving and being resentful of the same person. We certainly see this throughout people's development. So teenagers argue and fight with both parents in different ways, and there's a lot of loving and hating as a way of coming to terms with problems of separation. But the early part of good and bad persists. So there are always in-groups and out-groups in school. Kids are in an in-group or an out group, and there's always a situation where that kind of thing persists throughout development.

            And that goes into political parties. We are a country that has only two political parties, really, and therefore it's easier to make a split between good and bad. And that's something that has happened over the years. All Democrats are bad if you're a Republican and all Republicans are bad if you're a Democrat. And that's sort of how it's been for a long time, and it makes it very difficult for the two sides to talk to each other. The concept, for instance, of loyal opposition is really a British concept and it's not really seen in this country.

            So the next thing to talk about is why do people keep this split in two? And there's lots of examples from my own practice. There's lots of examples in my own family. It's very simple that my boys, when they were young, used to ask me, "Who's better? Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds?" As if that was a very important thing, because they had to make a hierarchy of those two players. And I kept saying, "Well, they're both great. What can I say?" And they said, "No, we want to know who's better."

            Do we like this person? Or don't we like this person? I'd be watching a speech on TV. They would say, "Dad, do we like them or don't we like them?" These are all efforts at trying to organize their minds. But one of the most important passion, I think, that has kept splitting into good and bad so in place for so many people is fear. People are afraid of the destructive feelings that they've put into someone else. So the other people become menacing to them. Other people may get not safe for them. And the other people contain their disavowed feelings of aggression put into other people. I'm not used to talking without people interrupting me with questions and comments, because I'm an awful lot here.

            It's funny. Your next meeting on May 6th is on Freud's birthday, for those who are interested, but Freud was... One of his greatest contributions was the idea of inner conflict, that people have an internal conflict between loving and hating. And then it becomes into something about loving and hating the same person.

            Now we've seen a lot of examples of either-or thinking. We've seen it in the media. We've seen it with Fox News, which is either-or. It's all bad or all good. And that's been promoted. There's been a tribal way that I could look at my own Twitter account and realize that the people I read are people who agree with me, and the people that other people read are people who agree with them. So there's a splitting that's constantly happening of good and bad. And if you talk about complexity, you're in trouble.

            So George W. Bush was asked about it because he said when he was President, "Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists." And then he was asked at a press conference, "What do you think about the fact that you see the world as one side or the other? What does that mean to you inside?" And you know what he said? He just said to the press person, "Well, the only time I look in the mirror is to comb my hair in the morning." So much for introspection and thinking about complexity. President Obama did think about complexity. He was very interested in seeing good and bad in both sides and trying to deal with being a person who really understood that people can be very patriotic but also have political views that really he objects to. And the problem with Obama was that he was the first president in some ways... although Roosevelt had some of that... who was like... I call a both-and president. He could see both sides of things and many sides. But the country that he was the president of was an either-or country.

            It was very hard in a nation we're either number one, were exceptional, we're USA, all of that stuff. And he was attacked for being unpatriotic because he felt that other countries felt exceptional. So there's a long history of hate between Republicans and Democrats, more likely for Republicans hating Democrats. I've had a lot of people in my practice. One guy had to break up with his girlfriend because every time he went to her parents' house, all they would talk about was how much the Democrats were evil. This was in the '70s or '80s, I guess, and he couldn't take it anymore.

            And then there's the fact that kids have problems integrating these different feelings of loving and hating. And the earliest example I've found is what I call the green speck theory. And the green speck theory, which is my name for a theory, is that when a child has a mac and cheese that's all nice and creamy and cheesy, but there's a little piece of parsley in it, he won't eat it. He'll push it away. It's disgusting. It's gross. It's contaminated. And it makes him anxious. That little green speck is like some kind of poisonous germ or something, which of course is interesting now in terms of COVID. There's other factors obviously that have led to splitting. One of them is, of course, racism that is really very serious in this country. And it has been. And when Obama was president, Mitch McConnell vowed to make him a one-term president.

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:23:04]

Dr. Justin Frank:

Mitch McConnell vowed to make him a one term president, and also block many of his appointments.

            But one of the things that happen in the process of growth, when you can see good and bad in the same person, is that you've had an experience of loss, when the baby loses the breast, say, or when the child has mixed feelings about a parent. Or when one of my patients had a terrible conflict because her mother was an hour late picking her up, and she was the last kid, she was sitting on the curb, everybody else had gone home, she must have been in the third grade, and she was sobbing. And she gets into the car sobbing, and her mother puts her arms around her to comfort her. That's a terrible position for the child because she's being comforted by the very person who hurt her so badly, and scared her, she's being comforted. So if she just yells at the mother for being late, she risks losing the comforting part of her, but if she only feels for the comforting and doesn't talk about the yelling, she's only a part person, and she can't really come to terms with angry feelings towards her own mother.

            That's why people split, and why people have to stop the divisions in their mind. And what happens is that there's loss, and that loss is the easiest way to talk about it. In one sentence, if I were writing a book about Joe Biden, it would be subtitled, Sorrow is The Vitamin of Growth. He's a person who's faced loss, who's faced sorrow, and who tries to help us face our losses from COVID and various other things, and that always leads to growth and change. And the more he's faced loss, and he's had several terrible losses, the more he's been able to grow as a person, and hopefully he's growing as a president beyond what some people's expectations of him were.

            There's so many different ways people want to be superior to other people, they use contempt, but one of the things that I wanted to mention briefly is the concept of group narcissism. What Donald Trump tapped into was the fact that many people felt deeply injured, marginalized, ignored by Washington, ignored by the changes that happened. They would go to church, many of them, they would be God-fearing citizens, but they felt really injured. And Donald Trump tapped into that by calling the DC 'the swamp', and what he did was he made the injured people feel good about themselves. He helped them able to be angry, and to have positive feelings about themselves.

            So he actually promoted a kind of split, because one of the ways he made them feel good about themselves was by attacking the press, by attacking institutions, by attacking Washington DC, where I live, I'm speaking to you from the swamp, and he turned good, although there's problems with politicians, he turned basically good into bad, and he turned hurt and rage into something good and justified, and that's what led to January 6, when people really did storm the Capitol as Patriots. They didn't storm it for many other reasons, they wanted to kill members of Congress, but that was because they were trying to save our country and they were storming it as Patriots. These are all either or a people.

            Group narcissism is something about that, and Trump would tap into with his rallies, group narcissism, where people felt empowered, and the bad people were Hillary Clinton, were the press, lock her up, beat up the press. They were bad, they were evil. There was an either or phenomenon, and that actually is something that has its roots, that we've already talked about, in infancy, but it can be made worse in groups. That's where nationalism is an issue. Many people who in this country opposed to having the United Nations because the United States should never have to answer to any other country, because we're the best. So nationalism also has an either or quality.

            So fear and hate are related, and I think that at the Trump rallies, there was fear and hate that are related, but that there was a link between the two. And I'm just going to mention very briefly what that link is. The link is an attack on truth, and an attack on learning. So one of the things that happens is, let's say I meet with you, this group, and I have a preconception about who you are, and what you're going to be like. But I'm speaking into a computer and into a void, and I don't see anybody's faces, and I don't know who's there listening, I don't know if you're awake or asleep, or whatever. I have no idea. So I develop a paranoid reaction or thought about you. I don't know if you're on my side, or if you want to say this is just a ridiculous talk. That's a split in my mind, and it affects my perception.

            But in a group that's large like this, one of things that happens is, as a leader, I try to see both sides. So I would much rather have an interaction when, at the end of this talk, people will confront things I say, or ask questions, or put me on the spot, and also appreciate it. But what happens is I have a realization that this group is more coherent. Once the talk is over I'll say, "Hey, these people are really good." So now I've gone from a preconception about you, which is anxiety-based, to a new realization that you guys are really interested in discussing things. And then I have a new preconception for something else, which is that this group is probably under attack by other groups who don't like diversity. So I have a new preconception that's based on a new kind of paranoia, and it just keeps going.

            That's how we learn. We have preconceptions, we have a realization that brings us something new, and then we have a new conception which becomes the preconception for the next thing, and that's about learning and growing. And part of that learning and growing is about the pursuit of truth. And what has happened with the attacks on the news media, and the attacks on the election, is that essentially truth has been called into question. So how do we talk about the fact that it's true that Trump won the election, and it's true that Biden won the election? I think that they're both true, and that's a very hard thing to accept and to come to terms with. So that's where we're at.

            So how do we start to bridge the gap and bring people together? Reconciliation means facing the serious differences that we have, and accepting them as facts. The discrepancies and differences are facts, and we need to accept the fact that people have such a massive diff difference of opinion from one another in groups, it has to be accepted in order to begin any kind of a conversation. We have to be able to look in the mirror, and we also have to be able to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. We have to be able to say, "Boy, those Republicans really hate me. Why do they hate me so much? What have I done to them? Are they afraid of me? Do they think I'm a communist and going to take away their guns, or control their lives, or whatever?" And I need to figure out why they hate me and why they're afraid of me, and I have to look at things I've done that may have made them more afraid.

            Those are all parts of the beginning of a reconciliation process, where people have to actually talk and put themselves in each other's shoes. Because in both cases, these people are defending against anxiety, they're defending against fear, they're trying to protect themselves against fear of the other. So the other is bad, we're good. The other is the Northern aggression, we are the Confederates. The other is the Republicans, or the Trump people, we are the Democrats who hate them. It's one thing after another that leads to tribalism and division. Now the issue has to do also with empathy, being able to put yourself in the other person's shoes, and that's a very hard thing to do.

            And what Kathy was mentioning in the beginning, from my interview with Tom Hartman was, "Should we talk about politics at the dinner table?" And I said, yes, because we have to face these things. It's not going to be easy, but with family where we love each other, supposedly, or friendships, we need to face these things together, and by facing limit means facing the fact that there really are differences, and they're major, and that we need to try to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, and one of the ways to do that is psychologically to sit side by side, rather than opposite each other, and that emotionally it would be interesting that, if you sit side by side, you can start to think about what it is that we have in common. Well, we have family in common, or we have love, or we have a long history of affection in common, and what do we do about having those things in common when we have these political views that are at such odds? And I think the important thing is to try to find a way to bring each other together.

            So I say that one of the best ways is obviously through empathy and compassion. Schopenhauer said, actually, that compassion is the basis of our own morality, and I do agree with that, because once you can put yourself in somebody else's shoes, you have a much more moral relationship to them, and they to you, and that you can learn to deal with complexity, and you can learn to not have to have absolute bad and good things.

            Once in a while I find myself saying that Trump did something I really liked. When I would say that to my friends, they were horrified. "How can you say that?" "Well, he did somethings I sort of liked." I liked the fact that he's been pulling troops out, and I like the fact that we haven't had a war during his four years, in the sense. We've had a war on our government. we've had a war on institutions, we've had a war on the press, but we haven't had a shooting war in the Middle East. I don't know if that's all he's doing, but I like the fact that we haven't had that. But if I say that to other people, they think I'm a horribly deranged person, and how can I do that?

            So I want to say a couple of more things about this. Listening is the new talking, putting yourself in the other person's shoes. You need to try, we all need to try, to listen to what the people who hate us hate about us, and they hopefully can listen to what it is that we hate about Trump, let's say, and why that is, and what it's about. And what we also have in common is very important. I feel like quoting all these old people, Milton, when he wrote Paradise Lost, quoted Satan, he gave Satan the words who said, "By my mind, I can create a heaven out of hell, and a hell out of heaven." And I think that's what happens, and that's what's happened in this country. That's what's happened with Fox, that's what's happened with various groups that are adamant about certain things.

            And that one of the dangers of a president, all of us identify to some extent with the president, all of us, but we also very much identify against the president, and we can see things in, for instance, Trump, the people who oppose him, see him as all bad, and the only way to deal with him is to start using his techniques, which are he's all bad and everything is all bad. You can never have a negotiation with that, you can never have a discussion with that, you can never reach for truth, or any kind of shared relationship. And Trump has attacked truth, and I have no question about that. He even said, don't believe what you see. So there's a great deal of questioning our own experience, and the attacks have to do with an attack on perception.

            So we have to find a way to see why these attacks are occurring, and what we've done to promote them. And if we can find other people who are willing to talk, so much the better. The problem is what to do with hate, what to do with suspicion, and it's not easy to deal with. I mean, Obama couldn't stand the idea of hate, he even talked about it. But what I'm trying to say is that even the press can make people feel hated, make politicians feel hated, because the press learned, since Watergate, to ask questions. They want to get to answers, they don't just go along with whatever the person in charge is saying, they ask tough questions, that's their job. But does that mean they're evil and destructive? To Trump they were. To Biden, I'm not sure how he feels yet, but we'll see. He had his first press conference today, and I think it went pretty well.

            So there are roadblocks everywhere. The people in the opposition become like the person opposed, and that's a danger. If you want to have diversity, and want to have discussion and openness, people have to face their own contribution to the problems. And before I close, because I really think that there's a long history of contempt and hatred that we see in our political life, mocking other people, but it's always defensive, it's always a way of avoiding the work of having to think.

            The work of having to think is work, and it makes people anxious, and that's one of the things that Obama actually said when he was talking about the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, at the first big meeting with the entire Senate in February of 2010, they started attacking him and arguing with him, and he finally said, "Listen, I can say exactly the same thing you just said to me, and you will argue with it because it's me who's saying it. And the problem with that is that you'll never get anywhere, because you're going to paint yourself into a corner by thinking that everything I do is bad, even when you say something that I agree with, as soon as I agree with it, it becomes bad. You change good into bad." And he said that to them, to John McCain, actually, and a couple of other people at that meeting.

            It was a very important observation and important comment, that people will change. It's like the green speck theory, anything, I mean, Obama was really the black speck in a white house, but it really is like the green speck theory, and people couldn't stand it, they couldn't accept anything that he said. And that's about racism and about contempt, and it's about avoiding having to think, and having to have a new position that involves complexity.

            So finally, it's impossible to really have this discussion without at least mentioning James Baldwin, who was just a great writer and spokesperson. And he said that, "It's necessary to bear witness for all of us, and by bearing witness it means speaking the truth of our own experience." And that's certainly for African-Americans to bear witness, but other people to bear witness, and for speaking truth about our own prejudices and our own discomforts. And he said, "Part of that bearing witness has to do with bearing witness about our own memory, and how are we going to remember things?" And he essentially said, "So what are we going to remember, the garden, or the serpent in the garden? How are we going to think about these things?" So there's a lot to discuss, he felt very clearly that when hatred was gone, people would have to face their own pain, and I agree that hatred is a defense against hurt, against narcissistic injury, and against pain.

            So I think I want to stop here, because there's so much to talk about, and I'll just close with a riddle that has a little bit of humor, since it's not exactly a funny talk, and it's this, what is the difference between a terrorist and a soprano? You can negotiate with a terrorist. Okay, thank you very much.

Kathy Me:

Thank you.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Thank you.

Kathy Me:

Thank you, Dr. Frank. I know that it's not easy for you, not having the interaction on the whole Zoom thing, but you did a good job. Thanks for being here and for taking your time to be here with us. We do have quite a few questions already.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Okay.

Kathy Me:

So hopefully this will be a good engaging rest of the time we have together. So I'll just get right into it with one of the questions. So Susan asks, in order to be able to hear the other point of view, do you think we need to understand that point of view?

Dr. Justin Frank:

Yes, we need to understand the other point of view in order to hear it. By putting ourselves in their shoes and looking at what it is that might be leading them to have that other point of view, and where it comes from in them, without judging it, but accepting it, and then thinking about it. That's a very hard thing to do, but I think that it's doable, it just requires a lot of work on the part of the people who want to start to talk. I mean, there's a wonderful book written during the nuclear arms race called Getting to Yes, and it was really about how you can discuss things where you both agree, and it was really about an attempt to get to yes in terms of the various SALT agreements and the accords.

            But basically yes, you have to put yourself in the other person's shoes. You have to understand that enough, because I think we confuse understanding was agreeing. We can understand something and not agree with it. I can understand where they're coming from and have a very different point of view, and in fact, that's one of the ways to avoid having a big argument, which is to say, I actually do get what you're saying, and my experience is different of what is happening, and I'd like to share it with you, but I really do, I think I do get what you're saying, and I don't have the same take on it, but it's the same thing.

Kathy Me:

Do you think that's possible in all situations, is there always something you can understand? I'm just thinking of conversations I've had recently where I can see where that would be harder.

Dr. Justin Frank:

I can understand, but I don't know that I can agree, but I also don't know that I can convince the other person that I do understand. And I could see that, there are people who are so set in their hatred and in their anger that they won't ever try to understand. And just like I said, how people were very upset when I said something nice about Trump. I can't believe it. In fact, one of the people who reviewed my book wrote to me and said that she would only review my book if I didn't say anything positive about Trump, which I really had a hard time saying anything positive about, I have to tell you, when I wrote the book, but there are some things that he's done about the war thing, for instance, that I actually think it's amazing that we haven't had a war. Already we're revving up for war since Biden's become president. So it bothers me.

Kathy Me:

Yeah. This might be a hard one to answer, but Bruce asks, what specific things can we do as a society to have people learn to be more compassionate and empathetic, and realize it's not a zero sum equation?

Dr. Justin Frank:

Well, I think that learning is a long-term process, and the learning requires an attitude towards hate, but it also requires education, for a long-term education starting-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:46:04]

Dr. Justin Frank:

... and for a long-term education, starting in kindergarten, about learning about respecting other people's points of views, trying to put yourself in other people's shoes. My Newsome kids in junior high school, where the teacher had a Jewish kid roleplay being a Nazi guard. That's pretty amazing and vice versa.

            So those things are really interesting. If you're going to play a Nazi guard and you're Jewish, you have to really be for that half hour or 20 minutes or whatever it is like a Nazi guard. So I think there are ways to do this, but when people are dedicated to hate, like say, Mitch McConnell, you cannot argue with him. You can't argue with psychopaths because they have no sense of right and wrong and they don't feel guilt.

            So there are some people you can't argue with, but we have to start somewhere and we have to start talking about compassion. I mean, for instance, the people who fought the War of Northern Aggression didn't ban the Confederate flag. I think that was a terrible mistake. I tell you the truth. I think we should have done what the Nazis did with the swastika and ban it. You can't have it because it's destructive to the whole country, but that's never happened. So sometimes you have to be tough and clear and then you can move towards getting to, yes.

Kathy Me:

I don't know if maybe you just answered this question, but someone just mentioned, where did the question go, about ... You talked about how destructive McConnell was. So this person asks, "When do you talk to someone who is murderous? How do you talk to them? Why do you talk to someone filled with murders hate and how do you talk to a Holocaust denier, for example?

Dr. Justin Frank:

It's very hard first of all. So I don't have a magic answer, but I will say that the best way to talk to a Holocaust denier or to a person like Mitch McConnell is to say, "I don't think it's any point in arguing with you. I really do understand that you have a completely different point of view and mine is completely different from yours. I do understand your point of view, but I do think that mine is probably more accurate and more truthful than yours. But I don't want to get into a shouting match about it. I'm not interested in getting into a shouting match. I'm interested in trying to learn about your point of view and why you have it and where it comes from, if it's a genuine point of view. I'd like you to hopefully be a little bit interested to learn about my point of view."

            In other words, it's not like turning truth into something that's relative and only it's whatever you think. It's not. The truth has to be stood. You have to stand up for truth, but you also have to respect that the other person doesn't agree at all. So to them, Trump won the election. I want to find out about that. I don't think it's easy and I don't think you can do it with everyone. I agree with the question. I mean, there are people who are just determined to destroy Obama, no matter what, and they're not going to listen. Obama always believed in the power of reason. In my book about him, I was troubled by that even though I appreciated it. So I made a diagnosis of him as the only president I made a diagnosis of him. I said that he suffers from obsessional bipartisan disorder. He had to see people getting along.

Kathy Me:

Okay. Let's see. So Alice asks, I'm looking for tools to give my Cal Poly teacher credential candidates. I'm researching, Rosenberg's nonviolent communication as a tool for finding common ground and collaboration. Do you have any knowledge or experience with NBC with nonviolent communication?

Dr. Justin Frank:

I don't have any experience of it. I have some knowledge of it, and I think it's very important to use nonviolent communication, but again, it involves respecting the other person and it involves making a decision to pursue truth and fact. One of the things that I've learned over the years in my practice is that people who lie to themselves, they lie to themselves before they lie to other people. One of the problems when you're a habitual liar and don't pursue things and nonviolent combinations of discussing is that you end up losing a part of your mind. I had a professor who used to say that truth is to the psyche, like food is to the body and without truth, the psyche starves. What that means is obvious that one of the things that we see is that the more people hate the truth and hate facts, the less their arguments make sense. They really don't make sense if you listen to people like Gohmert and Congress and different people like that.

            But I do think it's important to try to be able to say, "I don't agree with you, but I do know that this is how you think what you think, and I'm interested in learning more about it." It's a process. Getting to yes is a good one because that's about negotiating in good faith and giving something up versus getting an agreement. Trump never wants to give anything up in a negotiation because that means losing. So giving some things up for a person who literally sees the world in black and white is experienced as losing. Compromise is a loss for people like that. It's real.

Kathy Me:

What are your thoughts on the political divide or ideological divide that sometimes exists between, she says, young adults and their parents, I think maybe any age though, kids versus parents, can often feel like parents aren't willing to listen to the viewpoint of their kids and on the flip side, there's the respect your elders mentality with kids confronting their parents. How do we overcome their faces?

Dr. Justin Frank:

It's a tough thing, because respecting your elders can mean keep your mouth shut. It doesn't necessarily mean respecting your elders. So when my kids, each of them was one year old, I got them a shirt that said, "Question authority." I think that's important. You can be respected and very violently in arguing really disagree. But I think again, listening is the new talking.

            So the issue for parents is to try to listen to their kids and vice versa, because people have preconceptions and then they fit people into their preconceptions. "He's a fool. He's an idiot. He's too young. She's too passionate. She's too dogmatic." All of those things are pre inceptions that label people without thinking about them. It's easier to label people and to think about what they're saying. So I think it can happen. I mean, the stories in generations are very interesting.

            I mean, being from California, the free speech movement in Berkeley screwed a lot of students in the future years where a lot of money was withdrawn from University of California system and there was a lot of backlash. How can we pay for tuition for these kids if they disagree with us about Vietnam

or about race? I mean, it's true that it's really and then that's where money comes in, but it's a problem. I don't know what to say about it, but I do want to quote Cicero, so I'm quoting old people, dead people. Cicero said, "A country that hates its young has no future," and that's important.

Kathy Me:

Good to know. So someone argues, "Empathy is a great start, but there's a difference in imagining how it would be in someone's shoes. And then radical empathy, which means we must listen and learn the experiences of other people and humbly acknowledging those experiences without judging. Yeah, we're so divided philosophically and geographically to those who are not the same as us. So how do we accomplish radical empathy?"

Dr. Justin Frank:

It's very hard. It involves a certain kind of respect for the other person. And something that when you really hate what they say or you feel that you can't accept it, there needs to be some aspect almost of forgiveness because, and I don't mean it in a sense of being superior to the other person. I mean, just saying, this is how you feel and we're both Americans. And we are. I'm not going to say America, love it or leave it. I won't do that. But we have to try to find ways of finding radical empathy.

            Radical empathy is really putting yourself in the other person's shoes and understanding. I had to learn that the hard way in the dumbest of all possible ways. When I was a first year resident in Boston, I said to a guy on my first day on the job, "Give me a thumbnail sketch of why you came to the hospital?" He bit his thumbnail and handed it to me. So I learned right away that his experience of what I was saying was so concrete and so literal that he couldn't think abstractly. That was his experience. It's amazing to learn other people's experiences. Anyway, enough about that.

Kathy Me:

The projection of hate and fear on others and thus the dehumanization of the enemy, a tool used for centuries by militaries to prepare soldiers to do battle. How can we promote empathy into military leadership so as to more easily avoid war?

Dr. Justin Frank:

Wow, that's a good one because it's antithetical to certain military operations because you have to dehumanize the enemy in order to kill them or shoot at them. They have to be evil and you have to be united with your own service members when you're fighting against the enemy because the enemy is bad. So I think it's very hard to humanize the military and have it be a successful military. You want a military that can win a war. But I think that's a very hard thing to think about. I mean, I was a conscientious objector who avoided going in the military because I didn't believe even as a physician, I wanted to help people fight.

            But I will say that it's a very tough situation. I think we can learn to not dehumanize our relationships to one another within our service. That's the first thing, because when we dehumanize the enemy, that's already a problem, but it also can lead to dehumanizing our fellow service people, like I can de-humanize LGBT people, or can dehumanize and attack women, or you can dehumanize people of different races or ethnic backgrounds. And those are all dangers within your own military.

            So there's a way to work towards humanizing one another. I don't know if humanizing one another will help you humanize the enemy. There are very few. I wish I could remember. There was Das Boot. If you haven't seen it, it's a German movie, but it's very clear about how it humanizes the Ungermans in World War II. It's a pretty interesting and powerful film to see. It's worth it, but it's a hard thing to do. I agree. I think the military runs a terrible risk of being dehumanized because they won't even investigate their own people. There's all these studies about the rape and about various violent incidents in an armed service where they're all Americans and that the military brass wanted to investigate it because they're afraid of facing complexity. So the military hassle or interface complexity, and it can be done, takes a lot of work. And I don't know if they'd be as effective in fighting a war, but who knows.

Kathy Me:

So someone wrote that of a family member who makes dehumanizing comments about people, illegal immigrants, and others, yet he doesn't think he's racist.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Right.

Kathy Me:

It sounds like she tries to talk to these people after our conversations, "I feel drained and sad. How do I continue to engage, but protect my own emotional health?"

Dr. Justin Frank:

That's a very hard thing also. These questions are really hard. So I'm going to have a long nap after this, but the thing about protecting your health is to try to first recognize that you can't win an argument with them and you can't win an argument certainly by calling them racist because they don't think they're racist. They really don't think so.

            So the issue is how to put yourself in their shoes and see what they feel and what their fear is about, because they're afraid. People who put down foreigners, or workers, migrants, or people of color, they are afraid. They're afraid of losing something. They're afraid of the unknown, and they're afraid of leaving and it's not only about white supremacy. They're afraid of leaving a comfortable position. People are afraid of change because it means giving up something that's safe, which to do with the safety of free conceptions.

            People don't want to give up that safety. Even if you're a miserable, unhappy, depressed person, some people don't want to give up their depression because they're afraid of something unknown. They don't want to leave what's familiar. That's really disturbing.

            So I think that you will be less exhausted in arguing with your family member, if you didn't argue with them, but you said, I actually don't see it the same way you do. Why don't we try to talk about how you see it and how I see it? Because we both love each other. We're here at dinner together, but I don't see it the way you do. I want to tell you how I see it if you're willing to listen, but I am willing to listen to how you see it and why you see it that way. It's again, a hard work. It's like being willing to be vulnerable to put yourself in the other person's shoes. It's much easier said than done. But again, listening is the new talking. If you can listen to your relative without just freaking out about it, which I can understand, you're going to be a little bit ahead of the game.

Kathy Me:

How do you go a step beyond that? So I can see how that would facilitate having a civil conversation.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Yes.

Kathy Me:

But then how do you get a step beyond that into concluding anything or say anything?

Dr. Justin Frank:

Well, you can say, first of all, we've had a civil conversation that I really appreciate, and I appreciate how hard it is for you and how hard it is for me. Now, the fact is that we can have a civil conversation because we know each other, and we also love each other, and we're family for friends, whatever. The question is, what about somebody you've never met that you have these feelings about, or that I have these feelings about when it's harder to be civil until you know the other person? It really is harder.

            So I mean, one of the ways to do it would be maybe to remember this conversation. The next time we end up ... If you have a neighbor that you learned to like, you might be more empathetic to them, but it's hard to be civil to a stranger because they activate anxiety, because there are others. You don't know that you have anything in common with these other people, whereas you do in your own family.

            So it has to be taken to the next level, whether you're going to negotiate something, whether you're going to talk with them, whether they're going to agree to sit down with you. I don't think it can be done in a large group. There are people who are trying to do it. I have a Cal friend in the Boston area who started a group in Rhode Island, actually, where she had a home to try to get people who were all Republicans to meet with her. She couldn't get people because people don't want to talk like that. It's very hard. But I think if you don't try, it's not going to happen. If you do try, it might happen, but it may not. If you don't try, it's guaranteed that we're going to be in the same situation.

Kathy Me:

Do you have any specific strategies for people who aren't interested in that discussion or in having a constructive conversation?

Dr. Justin Frank:

I would say that I hope that at some point, we could have a discussion about it because I actually am curious to know why you think the way you do, even if I disagree with it, I'm interested. I would like to know. If you can tell me, that would be great. I'll tell you why I think. I mean, there's no strategy other than persisting and persisting in a humble way where you're not the expert. I mean, my problem is that I like to be the expert. So I have to give up that need. I have to be not the expert, even if I have expert feelings, when I think the other person's fool, they're are not making any sense. I have to try to be there.

Kathy Me:

Yeah.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Hard.

Kathy Me:

Yeah. What can we do to navigate around all the misinformation that's out there right now? How do you have a conversation with someone if there's a bunch of misinformation in argument.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Right. First of all, one has to try to find a way not to feel contempt for the people who are uninformed, because one of the things that's very interesting about it is that people who watch Fox news are very informed. They're just informed about the wrong things. So they actually are informed, but they're not informed about the things that I'm informed about.

            So when you talk to them, they're upset about closing down churches because it hurts their religious beliefs, but they can talk about it in a way that if they could talk about it in a way that's not crazy, or that they can begin to talk about why it bothers them, then you can talk about it and then talk about that there's this real dilemma between making a choice about wearing a mask, or closing down a church, or whatever, that people can talk about, their conflicts. You can talk about your conflict.

            So it's very hard to talk with somebody who doesn't want to talk. If they don't want to talk, there's nothing to do about it except saying, I hope one day you want to talk, because I'm here. I'd love it. If you want to talk, I'm not going to treat you as if, my God, he's giving into me. I'm just saying he wants to talk. It's great. I mean, I come from the world of the talking cure. That's what psychoanalysis is about. So I really do feel that it's important to put feelings into words. It's trying to put things into words so you can actually think about a feeling you have and contain it with a language and you can use that containing to discuss with someone else. I'm not answering your question very well, but I'm trying.

Kathy Me:

No, it's a hard question.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Keep asking. I mean, if it's that good, I'll keep trying.

Kathy Me:

Erica brought up Fox news. She said, she's always wonder, "Do we think that Fox news does what it does purposely to cause further divide and increase viewership, or do we think that they believe in what they say and view what they do as positive and beneficial and true?

Dr. Justin Frank:

Well, now we have exactly a perfect question because the question is couched in terms of either/or. Which is it about Fox news? I think it's both. I don't think it's either/or. I think they do want to convince people and do want to get more viewership and they do want to misinform. I really think it's all of the above and the problem is how to deal with it. There's a play. I think it's been printed, but it was one of the great plays I saw in New York before COVID came. It was called Ink. It's about the history of Rupert Murdoch in England before he came to the States. It's fantastic, but it's about sensationalism and all that. But I think Fox news is actually a menace and I think it is dangerous. It's very hard for me to watch it. I have tried sometimes, but it's like, I need to have either a bowl of Prozac or some kind of anti-hypertension medication at my side, because it's really very frustrating and they really ignore things. I mean, they ignore things. I mean, big things.

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:09:04]

Dr. Justin Frank:

They ignore things. I mean, big things. So it's very skewed and I do think it's on purpose. And I also think it's to get viewers. And one of the things that I've learned about projection in politics, which means attributing something to someone else and discovering it in yourself. One of the things that Fox News does is they say, "We are fair and balanced." I know that they mean the opposite, "We are unfair and unbalanced." Because that's what you think when Bush said, "I'm a uniter, not a divider." That was just a lie. And to himself was in projection, he was in divider, not a uniter.

            So you've got to start listening to what people say and think about the fact that they may be saying something that's about them. And Fox News is a good example, I think they've become out flanked by some groups that are even further to the right of them, like QAnon and Newsmax and other organizations that are really frightening. And I don't know what to do about it because we believe in free speech, supposedly, but this is really incitement to riot and I don't know if that's free speech or not, I don't think it is. I don't know what to do about it, I'm glad I'm not a lawyer.

Kathy Me:

Yes. We have a few other questions here I wanted to ask. So there's a lengthy comment/question by someone named John. So, John, I kind of want to address your question, but I don't know if you can word it for me here in a more succinct question. I might give John a little bit of time to ask a more specific question because I'd like to address it or I'd like you to address it. But in the meantime, let's see if we can find a more addressable question. Someone asks, "Rule of law and respect for norms, even legal norms took a big hit in the past four years. How do we convince people of why we need to return to a rule of law and actually a law abiding culture?"

Dr. Justin Frank:

Well, it's very hard to convince them, but you have to listen why they don't like the norms. It's the same issue, listening as the new talking, you have to try to understand why they want to break things and why they wanted to break these rules of law and regulations. And I don't mean just because little kids hate the fact that their parents make them do their homework or something. It's not breaking those kinds of laws. It's that people don't see laws as helpful to growth, they don't see laws as helpful to civilization, they don't see it. They don't understand it. I actually think that COVID has helped people see the government as being more positive than they used to think it was. I mean, as somebody said, the Republicans, Reagan would say, "The worst five words you can say, if you're a government person is, I am here to help."

            I mean, then that's horrible, which means you're here to control. So a lot of people parentify the government. But I think laws are very important, the best thing to deal with laws, however, is for us to talk about and think about the conflict we have about having to follow laws. And the best article or book or anything about that was written probably 100 years ago by Freud and it was called Civilization and Its Discontents, it's a very short book, it's very powerful because the people who hate the laws are the discontents. They don't like the limits of civilization. They don't realize that having limits helps people grow and helps people get better. They don't realize that it's the same that your kid does their homework or helping them learn about right and wrong and spending time with them that way, helps them grow.

            But you can understand how they don't like being pushed around and this starts with [inaudible 01:13:40] training really, I hate to say it but it's an issue that everybody has and you have to give up that lot of kids, they can't go to nursery school or pre-nursery school until they're potty trained. Well, that means they have to give up something they like to do, which is to take a crap wherever they want, because it feels good. And you can't tell me not to because I'm going to do it. But then you learn that you can't go to school unless you do it right and put it in the toilet.

            Those are all conflicts we have about civilization and about laws. And I think that it's always going to be there with us. And that what's happened with Trump is that he hates rules and regulations and he's tried to break them down in a way and he's gotten other people to see what was good about rules to turn it into something bad and that rules are bad. And I think that's a serious problem. But I do think we can argue about that and talk about it because even when you have rules about stocks and bonds and trading, usually that those people make more money.

Kathy Me:

I love your metaphors. This is only just as a comment but, you're doing an amazing job answering the questions because there's certainly no easier straightforward answers to the major questions of our time.

Dr. Justin Frank:

That's for sure. Well, that's why I love being a psychiatrist because you know what? We use interpretations. So we don't have to say, I kid about it, but I could say, "I make an interpretation since I'm not giving a fact because I don't know all the facts, but I will pursue them and try to learn more always." And that's important and that's why the questions that you're asking are stimulating to me. I mean, it pushes me to try to think more and hopefully the conversation we're having pushes everybody to try to think more, thinking is really hard, it's fun but it's hard. And it's so much easier to jump to conclusions. There was a guy who just died recently, Norton Juster, who wrote a wonderful book children's book called... This is where memory goes. I can't believe I forgot, I remember the name of the character. But it's a wonderful book because it's about a kid who is very depressed and he's in the doldrums. And then what he does is he turns every-

Kathy Me:

Phantom Tollbooth?

Dr. Justin Frank:

Phantom Tollbooth. Thank you, Phantom Tollbooth. Abe Frank said that he's my son, he knows, I used to read it to him. So the Phantom Tollbooth is, they're going around in a boat and there's a guide and then there's this kid and they go past this island and it's packed with people, I mean, jam packed. And the kid says, "What's that island?" He says, "Oh, that's the island of conclusions." And he says, "Wow, how do you get to it?" He says, "By jumping." And then he says, "Well, how do you get off?" "Well, it's much easier to jump to conclusions than to get away from them, that's why there's so many there." It's that kind of book, but it's turning conflicts and things into things that will help a kid think or a grown-up think. Thank you, Abe.

Kathy Me:

We have time for just maybe one or two more questions. Ellen is referring to, recently they're talking about under-reported Asian-American hate crimes and she is wondering if you have a thought on why would news under-report anti-Asian hate crimes?

Dr. Justin Frank:

I actually don't know why they would not report or under-report anti-Asian hate crimes. I think they should be reported with everything else, hate crimes or hate crimes. And I'm not sure why they would under-report it. So I'd be curious what Ellen's thought is about why it's being under-reported. That's a good psychiatrist answering a question with a question. I don't really have a theory about it, it's very strange. I think it's just easier to talk about race in terms of black and white, but I don't know because it's really serious what's happening. And they've happened for there's a long history in your state, my old state, California, about amazing anti-Asian crimes. Even in the 1880s in Los Angeles, they wiped out almost of the entire Asian population, the police before they had laws to protect people, it's pretty wild stories. So I don't know.

Kathy Me:

So I'll try to address a John's comment/question here. He feels there's often little diversity of thought within the diversity movement. He's wondering if there's a chance there may be danger in trying to promote diversity and unity by demonizing Bush, Trump, McCarthy and McConnell by name.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Absolutely. I think the problem is that the diversity movement and what I was saying is that when they use the same tactics of the people who dehumanized them or are racist against them, then they lose their own position of authority. And I think that it is important to have diversity in the diversity movement and try to understand what's going on with some of these people, that's the first thing. And I do think that there's also a comfort in having a pseudo mutuality because that helps a group feel coherent. And there are fears in a group that if people start saying what they think they might find themselves at odds with other members of their own group, with whom they might otherwise agree but on some things they don't and groups themselves are often agencies against individuation and against having a mind of your own, especially if it disagrees with the group.

            So people need to belong to a diversity group. So they give up a certain amount of autonomy to be a member, but they also need to keep their autonomy and have their own thoughts that allows them to be a member and still be diverse. So diversity groups need to have debates among themselves, I think. If you're just learning about the bad guys, we're doing the same thing of either or thinking, and it's not to say that McConnell's not a bad guy, he is, he's a bad guy, and we can unite against him, but that's not about diversity. Uniting is about tolerance and diversity within our own group. And that's not easy to do either. So to differentiate that way, groups are... Erich Fromm, if you want another book, I keep thinking of all these books. The book that Erich Fromm wrote is called Escape from Freedom. And it's about the conflict between wanting to be in a group and wanting to be independent. And that's a deep conflict that people have.

Kathy Me:

It seems like we keep coming back to understanding other point of view and facilitating the discussion.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Absolutely. And tolerating it, and the other person, you don't want them to be cruel about it or sadistic because I have two sadistic friends-

Kathy Me:

Oh, you do?

Dr. Justin Frank:

... who know that they can get under my... Only two that I know of, who can get under my skin and they know how to do it and they drive me crazy. And that's a very hard thing to deal with, but they're not interested in talking about their own feelings or letting me know why they feel the way they do. They just say, "You're full of it", to me and get me all worked up and frothing at the mouth.

Kathy Me:

All right. Someone is happy that you seem optimistic about our future, but we'll end maybe with one more question. [Sarie 01:22:23] says, "We need truth and reconciliation about our white supremacist and racist past in this country. Do you see a way of facilitating this?" Maybe your thoughts on moving forward.

Dr. Justin Frank:

I think bullying forward involves being honest about yourself. I mean, I learned unexpectedly that I had racist feelings a few years ago when I suddenly realized I didn't like something I saw or I remember I hated it in myself and I just was aware of it. And I think that people being aware of the power of either social things or about their own stuff, it's really important to face who you are and think about it. In fact, I read a book title years ago, I'll just be embarrassed to tell you but what the hell? Since I can't see anybody. I read a book title written by a well-known analyst that said, Conversations With Myself. And I thought it was really about her thinking about things and having heavier conversations. So then I bought the book and I read the title again, it was much tougher, it was called Confrontations With Myself.

            And I would have rather had a conversation with myself than a confrontational with myself. So it was a very good book. Anyway, I think that, that's what we have to do about racism, the history, I mean, The 1619 Project in the New York times is an incredible and very powerful and really important and informative and a lot of people didn't know about those things, I didn't know some of them. But if you're going to say, "Oh, well, Thomas Jefferson's a piece of crap because he had slaves." That's the same thing about either/or. I mean, he also said the tree of liberty has to be replenished by the blood of patriots every generation. That's not exactly the remark of a slave owner.

Kathy Me:

So a lot to ruminate on and to learn from. So we thank you for all your insights and all your time. Any last comments or thoughts for [crosstalk 01:24:41]?

Dr. Justin Frank:

I'm going to tell you a quick story, and this is-

Kathy Me:

Please do.

Dr. Justin Frank:

... what I believe. And that is that when there was a movie about nuclear war in the '80s and I forgot what it was called, of course I forget these things. But it was a big move, maybe Abe will tell me, but it was a very serious movie. And anyway, there was a third grade teacher or a fourth grade teacher in Palo Alto actually, who was in the class the next day and he said, and there were 20 kids or something, "How many of you people think you're going to die from the nuclear war?" 19 people said, "Yes." One person said, "No." And then the teacher figured I'm going to ask that person, he says, "Why do you say no?" He says, "Because my mom and dad are working against the nuclear arms race." That's hope. And I think that there is hope if you're trying. And I think humility when you're talking to somebody and not being arrogant about, you know all the answers is important because you can sit side by side with them psychologically.

Kathy Me:

All right. Thank you. Cornell. Do you have any finishing, any closing comments?

Cornell Morton:

Unmute myself here. Okay. There we go. Thank you, Sarah. A wonderful job, as usual as our moderator really appreciate that. And thanks to all those who helped to put this together, all of our board members who participated in making this possible, I just want to mention very quickly a reminder again about our May 6th program coming up where we'll continue this dialogue and take on a different tact, but a related tact around human rights. Dr. Frank, that was a wonderful presentation. And I appreciate your humor. I appreciate your experiences. This is serious subject matter, but I think you added just a touch of levity to it so that we understand how important it is that we continue to laugh and continue to enjoy the dialogue admitting at the same time that the serious nature of the conversation is forefront. Thank you so much for that. Empathy, compassion, mutual respect, all the principles of what I'll call a humanistic approach to this work.

            I really appreciate that. I was taken by your comment, "Listening as the new talking." We ought to talk a little less, listen a little more, but here's the challenge I was thinking about this, in this era of massive social media and the use of social media as a [cauldron 01:27:49], as a weapon against conversation against listening. I think the challenge before us is to find better ways to talk with one another but more importantly to listen and to not fall prey to what we see in the worst of the use of social media, for example. I was thinking that we don't really teach listening in our schools or even in our colleges. Of course, in our colleges, we have speech, we have debate, we have speech communications, but I'm not sure there are many classes on listening. So I-

Dr. Justin Frank:

Actually, there's a humorous woman whose name I can't remember, who used to say, "There's only two positions there's talking and waiting to talk." Who said that?

Cornell Morton:

Yeah.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Fran Lebowitz.

Cornell Morton:

Ah. Oh, that sounds like Fran Lebowitz. The one I know at least.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Cornell Morton:

Thank you so much. Well, I won't delay our departure, but I do want to again, extend our gratitude and you were a perfect choice for this and thank you Kathy, for locating Dr. Frank and for bringing him to us. And I really appreciate, again, the participation tonight. We've had great questions, great dialogue. And I did say at the start that I hoped much of what you might say would inspire us and you have done that. So thank you so much.

Kathy:

Thank you.

Dr. Justin Frank:

I have one thing I wanted to thank Sarah for her questions and how she helped me [crosstalk 01:29:33] and translating what were otherwise complicated questions into something that would help you-

Kathy Me:

Yeah, they were hard to even ask.

Dr. Justin Frank:

I'm sure.

Cornell Morton:

As usual, as I said at the start, sir, You did a great job. Thank you.

Kathy:

Thank you Dr. Frank.

Cornell Morton:

Oh Kathy, you've got something?

Kathy:

I just wanted to thank Dr. Frank, I feel like we're best buddies now after all of the back and forth.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Which is great. I loved it. On of these days I want to come and see you guys in person when [crosstalk 01:30:02].

Cornell Morton:

That'll be great.

Kathy:

I hope so.

Kathy Me:

We'll be here.

Cornell Morton:

We'll be here.

Kathy:

Thank you.

Cornell Morton:

Well, everyone have a good evening, have a good weekend and stay safe. Thank you.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Thank you.

Kathy Me:

Good night.

Dr. Justin Frank:

Bye.

Cornell Morton:

Good night

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