What COVID-19 reveals about our human nature

Kristin Karaoglu · May 6, 2020 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/5016

Brian Kay, Marriage & Family Therapist, speaks with Bambi Francisco Roizen

Vator · Brian Kay, Marriage & Family Therapist 2
Bambi Francisco Roizen, Vator Founder, and CEO speaks with Brian Kay, Marriage & Family Therapist with a Ph.D. in the Historical Theology. He's also a Pastor at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church.
This podcast is a bit different from the first one. The first one Brian had his psychotherapist and family counseling hats on. This time, Brian and Bambi take a 50-thousand foot view on the topic of humanity. This isn't about how individuals are dealing with certain stress and anxiety and how to cope, but what this crisis reveals about the human condition and whether this pandemic is moving people to ask deeper questions about humanity that are often ignored during normal times when people are far too focused on competing with one another.

BF: I'm Bambi Francisco Roizen, I'm speaking with Brian Kay, he is a marriage and family psychotherapist with a subspecialty in Christian oriented psychotherapy, he's also a pastor at Walnut Creek Presbyterian, and he has a Ph.D. in historical theology. He has a podcast called Shot Put, which explores both scripture and neurobiology to understand our humanity. This is the second time I'm speaking with Brian, today's podcast is a bit different than the first one. The first one Brian had his psychotherapist and family counseling hats on. But this time, it's a bit of a 50,000-foot view to understanding humanity at large.

It's not about how individuals are dealing with certain stress and anxiety. But how is society at large being shaped by this pandemic? And is there a silver lining, in that we're asking deeper questions about humanity that are often ignored when we're living in a very economically competitive world. So Brian, thank you for joining me again.

BK: Thank you, Bambi it's nice to be back with you.

BF: Right, let's start with a question about politics or I don't want to start it feels like I'm already starting negatively here because politics is so divisive, but we do live in a very polarized society. And at the same time, pandemics or crises often bring people together. And I see that in many cases that we're seeing a number of people come together, but we're still seeing heated division, especially between those who don't believe in a God and those who do. So as an example, The New York Times wrote an article about how Christians paved the way for COVID. Other articles suggested that putting Mike Pence as head of the task force is evidence. The White House doesn't believe in science, but rather God what are your thoughts?

BK: Such softball questions, Bambi. Boy, this is just such a lightweight episode you got here. Diving right in, well, I think, you know, my guess my take on it is that the problem of how to explain those that have really had a hard time with some of the scientific data or recommendations around COVID it does raise this larger question as you brought up and as that New York Times piece brought up around are Christians or the Christian faith, let's put it that way as the Christian faith, particularly anti-science. And therefore does that lead those that have Christian leanings to be drawn towards candidates or elected officials that that reinforce that by sort of flouting scientific advice but in my mind always goes back to the beginning if you will, when it comes to wear Scientific Method and scientific discoveries and development was first born in history, we really saw that the scientific worldview came out of a broader Christian worldview, that sort of grounded the reliability of science in the idea that science was a tool to help understand the creation that was made by a rational creator. And that's a mouthful, I realized. But if you look back to the beginning of science, and you see figures like Isaac Newton, who was a Christian. I always think about Blaise Pascal, who, the scientists and maybe more of a mathematician. You see people like that, who saw no division whatsoever. There's no contradiction, you could say, between belief in a God even a god performed miracles, and science, because simply to be a scientist was to be at play in the field of matter and electrons and neutrons, the very things the very building blocks that God used to build his universe. So I'm always wanting to kind of take the conversation and reground it in this conviction or observation at least, that science is naturally born out of a case of a Judeo Christian worldview. Francis Collins, by the way, is my other go-to guy when I want to make this case if anyone ever asked me, he's a former head of the Human Genome Project and wrote a book called “The Language of God” that came out maybe a dozen years ago or so. Again, an example of someone who operates at the very height of his field, in biology, as well as being someone who was without any contradiction, a thought leader, even as a kind of a lay theologian, and public Christian. So, that said, My only other response I think, to that question, Bambi is that it is still no doubt the case that some people have resisted some of the scientific advice given by experts around COVID. My case is that that resistance is not because of a Christian conviction. There are other reasons that are more cultural or sociological, that have to do with a distrust of academics and just trust of experts who some people feel have diminished religious belief out of hand and it's in that distrust that some of the anti-science stances show up.

BF: Anti-scientists are the ones that have the distress, the distrust in tradition, the distrust in the hierarchy, the distraction of people in charge, it's just overall distress. It's not so much. It's a little bit distress, the distress of those who have Christian principles, but it's also just a lot broader distress and Just people in general,

BF: I guess. Yeah, me perhaps. So I think I'm sort of noting something that has been seen by sociologists who talk about some of the divisions in our country culturally are among those who, in this particular division, it's a division between those who have distressed an expert culture is just trusted. And so I think it was an I'm trying to remember the man who wrote the analysis of the I think it was based in Hillbilly Elegy. Sorry, I was reaching for that's, I know that books thesis has been debated here and there. But I mean, one thing I think you can take away from that book is this idea there really is a cultural division between expert culture and those that are less educated and it's the rift becomes this general just trust that the experts are maybe they're right about certain things, but they also are people don't care about us and actually make fun of us and mock us for our hillbilly Enos. And that does seem to me that is it's a kind of a sociological explanation for some people that, yes may identify as Christians, but they're, they're dismissal of some of the scientific experts is more of a psychological push back against those that they feel have looked down in them and condescend to them. And then I used to work in a university setting where I was teaching in a philosophy department. And, you know, here it was among the intellectual elite, who happened to have a number of many Christian undergraduate students at this college. It was Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, actually. And the department head of the philosophy department admitted to me in private, she said I've got a number of faculty who really do seek to disabuse their students of Christian faith. And so she was admitting and she was didn't like the the fact that all but she admitted that, you know the experts in the field in this case the intelligentsia really did seek to, to kind of remove religious belief from their students and saw it as old fashioned and naive. So there is there's just trust both ways. And I think that's to make a long story short, that's some of what you're seeing. And it's this mistrust distrust of some Christians for scientific conclusions. But I think that New York Times article kind of went way.

BF: And a couple of comments I, I was reminded of something that Jordan Peterson said in a debate with Sam Harris, where he talks about how he believes that that science is nested in a Judeo Christian philosophy versus Sam Harris's view that morality is nested in silence first. So in the end, I think of this. I'm not sure if it was in debate more of a discussion, but I don't think they've had those two presuppositions they really couldn't get much further review. They were on both sides. That was their presuppositions. And that, you know, they had a two-hour conversation. Do you just spoke for about 15 minutes? We live in a world of twitterverse. So it's almost part of that discussion.

BK: Oh, right. It's true.

BF: And I wonder, you almost want to tweet something that isn't a rant, but something that can get people to just stop and think and I'm not sure maybe that's not a way to do this. You really need people to think about it, but I would you, there's got to be a way to reach these people to say this is you're taking something extremely complex, and you're not really understanding your own condition of even where the root of why even wrote this piece. And one was wondering how do you even? How do you even get people started? To think about those things, to think about where maybe you know, some of the things they might have said were correct, some of those things are just taking a little too far. How do you get them to even start to think?

BK: Let's see. Well, I was watching an episode of The West Wing a couple of nights ago, just like we're all just streaming old Netflix shows and I'd slanted upon when my old favorite show the West Wing where the president he cites one of the classics, let's see, post hoc ergo propter. hoc, he uses this Latin phrase, which is kind of tweetable. You could tweet a Latin phrase that short. And that that phrase is one of the I think it's one of Aristotle's informal, logical fallacies. And basically, that fallacy says that if something occurred after a thing, it must be because of that thing. So if my dog barks before breakfast, and it rains later that day, and I conclude that whenever my dog barks, it causes it to rain. I'm committing the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. And I think that when you there's a bit of a post hoc ergo propter hoc problem with, you know.

BK: Yeah, I'm thinking of like the statement. Christian Christianity paves the way for bad behavior in COVID-19. Where I would say like, now, there's literally no logical connection between Christian belief and behaving badly during COVID-19. That's, it's a post hoc, ergo propter hoc problem there. There are sociological realities among some overlapping identity among those that might profess Christian belief and who might distrust scientific authority But their distrust of scientific authorities is not logically connected. You know, sadly, to the to, to Christian belief. And so the Times article to me it's committing a kind of a logical fallacy. I guess it might even be the ad hominem fallacy to is, well, let's, we'll stay out of the Latin weeds a little bit. But I guess if we're going back to your question is, you know what, what can be tweetable about this? Sometimes it's very gently and kindly and briefly naming the logical fallacies that we sometimes see

BF: I want you to talk about that. If there's it's an ad hominem fallacy. Can you talk about that a little bit more?

BK: Let's see the ad hominem fallacy means it's literally to the man which means that somebody who is bad, believes a thing, and therefore that thing can't be true because that's a bad person.

BF: Okay, It's almost like a syllogism, right?

BK: Yeah, it's like a failed syllogism. Yes. I mean, you could say you could probably, like my personal take is you can see ad hominem fallacies going on all the time if you watch fox news and MSNBC. So what they'll do is they will highlight a person who's a bad actor. He's a drug dealer. He's a such and such he said this or that, and then they will name that he is also a believer in this. Like in Fox News, it'll be like, here's this.

BF: True, it's right. They find the right, the right subjects to validate your theory about, you know, there's a certain theory.

BK: Right, and they criticize a theory by finding a bad person who believes that theory, right? Yeah, that was a rapist and he voted for a Democrat. Therefore, democratic stances are our way Maybe, or it'd be the reverse. It would be a it would be. Trump said msnbc would leave x and therefore because Trump is a bad actor x is wrong. I would say like, if you alertly think about that. And you'll see these fallacies just all over the place. Especially as people get scrappy in social media or even on cable news, perhaps.

BF: Yeah, I do. I actually do see them and the one I see I call it the illogical syllogism. The one that I see use a lot is you know, white males voted for Trump. Trump is a racist, therefore, white males are racist. That's everywhere. 

BK: That's right. There's a number of fallacy there.

BF: Yeah, let's, let's which to see something a little bit easier to understand. There's There's what I'm also seeing. And maybe this is related. Besides the fallacies we're seeing, we're seeing a lot of hypocrisy revealed. Now. And one example we talked about is this open border policy where people feel that they want open borders, but now, they're very concerned about people eating coming into their neighborhoods, because they don't want to be exposed. Or people who say, don't believe that the administration is one second, I have my son here. Alright. So I guess I'm not going to dive into that. Second example, I'll just ask you how I think all of us have particular blinders, or we or we see things or see the world in certain way. And we're very, very adamant about our views. But this moment is hopefully helping all of us to see our own blinders. And so I'm wondering how do we help ourselves see our own blinders during this time? So not just see how others are critical, but maybe where we are. Right. Hmm,

BK: Let me think about that Bambi. Yeah, there's you brought up the open border versus the Nazi open city. And I, I think there's some things that are wouldn't necessarily be hypocritical about a version of that because the person could be opposed or the beef in favor of open borders because the risk of someone coming across the border is lower to them than the risk of catching a disease that someone might have. If they didn't respect a quarantine or something. But I think the question behind the question there is, and I feel this in my own heart too, and noticing while i'd sometimes congratulate myself, I'm being a fairly generous like open-minded kind person. I'm finding myself sometimes less than those things when I'm being inconvenienced during the COVID-19 shutdowns like I just everything from Well, I'll put it like my wife was in in the market the other day and she is right when there's going to enforce the tape on the ground with a six-foot gap between the tape lines so that when you're waiting in line for a cashier, you know you're six feet. So the Lions have to go string down the aisles instead of the normal way. So she missed seen that and ended up getting in line and cutting someone off and she got a big eye roll in her arm from a person who and she backed down immediately and apologize and went to the end of the line, I think but I'm that kind of a just brittle kind of annoyance. I feel at my own Like I'm saying, and it's not the norm. It's not the best version of me. But this, some of these hardships are experiencing are pushing us to kind of the worst ends of our personality spectrum, I think. And that's a little convicting. And it's, it's, you know, perhaps as it should be, it's it's a chance to reevaluate, and kind of, have a humility check to as well with a recommitment to our deepest values.

BK: Yeah, I think it's also so you're creating context around that situation, right? I mean, we require you acted in the way that that you don't particularly like to see is because of the situation. You're in the circumstance that your wife was in. And so maybe it's, maybe when life gets back to a different normal cadence, we can say all these issues are pretty complex, right? And we If somebody has a pinion about an open border or nonopen border, it's not if you're with open for open borders or not, or closed borders, it's about what's the context around that. And maybe that's sort of the harmful way to take the blinders off. of, you know, when you're so lit, speaking of because we're still somewhat talking about politics here. But it This doesn't even have to be political. Maybe this is just about leadership in general. And there's lots of criticism about how, how our governors are handling certain things, how our bosses are the CEOs, how the president, how the CDC, how the who, I mean, there's so much criticism, everybody's thrown around, trying to blame everyone for something, but what I do see from the The, from the governors and the presidents. I see optimism, for instance, with Governor Cuomo, he talked about how let's not think about us reopening up but reimagining what the world can be. And President Trump saying, we have this under control and it's everything is going to be fine. And for me, I actually, I enjoy focusing on the positive. Maybe because I live in Silicon Valley area. I work with tons of entrepreneurs. I'm an optimist at heart. And I think that leaders should be optimistic. What do you think? How do you think a leader should be and shouldn't they exude confidence

BK: you know, I love Jim Collins take on what makes a great leader from his you know, classic Good to Great book. That's one of my go twos if I'm really trying to boil down what makes really deeply successful leadership It creates a kind of leadership that people want to follow you. And that book was just so surprising. And what if I might like my summary which Jim Collins might argue with me as a summary, but it boiled down to him that the two qualities were of a great leader were humility and professional drive. And so you asked about optimism, I could imagine. Optimism could fit into the humility or the professional drive category a bit. But let's just start with humility. There's something about a leader that ends up being successful at the metrics that he defined as successful. I think it was being a CEO of a company that was like doing really well for at least 15 years straight or something, whatever it was, it was, you couldn't flash in the pan CEO wouldn't have been couldn't have been defined as great in this method. So humility is some sort of ability that a leader has where you get the sense that they are committed to a situation But it's not all about them. It's their own personal kind of glory and it is not what they're stoking in their in their leadership. There was a an illustration of that where I think he looked back at Enron CEO Ken Lay and tracked how large can labs photo was in each of the annual reports of Enron as the years went by. His photo kept getting larger and larger until it was like an entire full page photo of himself. It's kind of a cycle you have to kind of do a psychological read they're like does that is that sort of a narcissistic and I think Collins was suggesting it was sort of a sign of a narcissism that is the opposite of this humility, quality. And then we all know that Enron crashed and burned historic as a historic fall. So humility is projecting the sense that you care about the organization and the people within it and those that you're serving. It's a servant leadership model. A great quality of leadership with the professional drive is the other side of it. It's not just nice guys, that end up being the great leaders. It's a really high commitment to the actions that drive the organization forward in whatever its mission is. And so it really is the people that are kind of staying on top of the tasks and in casting vision, so you can cast vision in that professional driving sense, which I think could include the optimism that you're talking about casting a vision for the future, but this kind of deep humility about your own self as that's attached to the vision, even what you don't know. So and I think the last thing I'll say about this, is that the tough thing about being a leader in this situation with COVID, is you've got to at one hand, not act like a sulky er, when you're behind a microphone or in front of a camera as a leader, but you also have to have a kind of a kindness and a sense of empathy for those that have suffered. And if your optimism dances over that, and undercuts the reality of those that have suffered vastly, either by loss of jobs or loss of life or loss of loved ones. That's just a real tone-deaf moment that will lower your ability to be followed. So it's a lot to keep in mind. It's not an easy time for leaders. It's testing all of us that have influence.

BF: I think that was very well said, Fine. Thank you. Now I want to talk about switch gears a little bit and talk about the human condition, which is something that you have explored quite a bit, particularly with your podcast, where you combine scripture in neurobiology, that's an awesome combination to understand humanity. And so this will be something you can answer pretty well or give me your thoughts about. It's interesting. 9-11 was probably the last crisis that I recorded. And I was part of it. I remember it vividly, but I'm sure you do as well. And from my research, it appears that from the 1990s and then of course 2001, we saw the rise of these new atheists, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and particularly Sam Harris was, was affected by 911. And they use that often as evidence that religion is misleading. And, and I'm wondering coming out of this shutdown, and being attacked by the enemy, we can't see. We kind of couldn't see the enemy in 911. Either. Remember, they were terrorists and they were populated, they were going to be all around us, even in our local communities, they would be emerging. So there was, you know, this one is definitely hidden. This enemy, so what kind of new philosophical viewpoints will emerge after this. I'd say that's tough that's my toughest question for you so far.

BK: That is a pretty tough one. Um, let's see. I mean, well, you mentioned Sam Harris Richard Dawkins because they're Hitchens and that like definitely if you're there, I guess not to overly simplify their kind of collected worldview on religion but it's it would be Yeah, that religion is bad that it's, I think was Dawkins that said religion spoils everything. And that would be a pretty good exhibit if you're trying to prove that thesis 911 because it was completely religiously driven. Violence. It wasn't to get rich. It wasn't to get famous, those people died in the act of killing others. And then yet, it doesn't totally make the case. So there's been other I'm just trying to remember the name of this Times columnist right now who writes opinion He is, um it's just out of mine, unfortunately. But he, he would he would not he would not be a Christian. He's not a believer, by his own definition. And yet he has been very active in African aid. And so he travels through Africa on assignment quite regularly. And he reports back that he sees the really on the frontline of human suffering. The people that are really the ones showing up there and setting up the field hospitals, who are hanging out in the midst of plagues or even war torn pockets of the earth. They're usually the people that are religiously motivated to be there. In fact, he gives credit for the Christian missionaries in particular the ones that are like right at the hardest pockets of African suffering, especially in East Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya.

And so, you know, I my case is that certain kinds of religion do more damage than other kinds. And it depends, like religion is so vast. I mean, if, if you believe in a God, who is defined by a kind of strict vengeance and merciless pneus that will, yeah, that will influence the way you operate in the world if you're defined. If your belief in a god is a God who's defined primarily by a love of his creation, a love of what he's made, that is gonna lead you to behave differently in the world. So I guess I'm teasing out one part of your question there about kind of the new atheists versus those that might disagree and say that religion can in fact, produce good in the world. And, you know, the other part of that question, I guess, is, what new philosophical viewpoints do you think will emerge? I don't know where to totally go with that. Except that I think there's some kind of I would like to thank That we are seeing versions of the best of humanity in the middle of this particular crisis. We're seeing people our church right now somebody to our church decided we needed to come up with a way to help our senior citizens within the the congregation to get groceries because for them of all people to go into the shop, they're more risk than any of us. And we saw we saw so many volunteers of younger people that were willing to go buy groceries for, for our elderly, that it was we had something like 25 volunteers but only one senior citizen was asking for food yet. And then you know, that did my heart good to kind of see our see people in operation like that. And yet we have in the city of Walnut Creek over from the city itself, as I understand, connect kind of kind of got connected with our ministry and said, hey, my goodness, we'd love to do the same thing as sort of a city wide effort. And so now you've got in the room, people of various things. Faith backgrounds, operating out of the angels of their better nature you might see. And so I do. I guess I'm a bit of an optimist in general, but I think there's a kind of humanity at its best that does emerge, both from faith communities and even secular communities and moments like this, the Christian worldview, it said, part of the reason you see that is that human beings are made in the imago day as it's been called the image of God, that there's some kind of core element of our spiritual DNA. That is, that does desire actually to, to love others, even at risk to self to put other things ahead of our own that's that's in there somehow in our spiritual DNA. And so it's always delightful and sometimes surprising to see that even in hardship, some of those qualities come out.

BF: Thank you. What I'm thinking of when you're speaking is I think that you're talking about is some spiritual, spiritual revival and it's like the greatest awakening after the first great awakening, awakening as we've had, but maybe we're going through that now. And I'll give you an example. I wrote a piece called the normal times you suffer alone. And it was really about putting our suffering into perspective, when we've been talking to our kids about that. And so one, our second and the oldest, it started saying that, you know, I really thought these things matter so much to me. And now they're gone, and realized that he doesn't have to define himself with those things and so on, right, because so many, so many. So many great friends. Sorry, this is what happens when you're working from home, you have your kids, okay, we're not I wasn't able to do that. Don't do that either.

BK: We've all had a zoom call that's had that kind of a kind of a

BF: Technical difficulty here. So I really can't ask you Okay, today, so if you have For those who are listening, when we actually have this live, there is iPad, what you can do is you can limit your child's iPad time, which is what I do, which is actually really good for everyone. And then you have a time for the trial. You have actually give them more time if they're nice. Brother, grandparents, and that's what I'm doing right now. So. anyway, so back to that point is that my son sort of put things into perspective and I think he might have an awakening and maybe sort of hopefully, and maybe something he can share with his friends. And he's in the prime years of suffering, right teenage years, right thing is tough on life is so hard, your teenager. So we want to talk about you know, I sort of mentioned the Great Awakening, which was in the 18th century, which some people call the long 18th century or the Age of Reason. And a friend of mine called it the, he said, it's a misnomer. It should have been called the age of intellectual slumber. And he said, Because during that time, we didn't focus on the why, why are we here? As opposed to how did we get here? We were so focused on being rational and being economically driven, or, or at least being rational and scientificly driven. And so I'm wondering, I think, you know, pandemic obviously, pushes us forward pushes this question forward. Why are we here? Why is this happening? But how do you think we can do a better job? even helping people around us? ask that question, why are we supposed to, why are we here? How can we use this opportunity to to engage people in that question?

BK: You know, that's a great question, Bambi I, when I'm in my therapy chair, I would say most people that are bothering to take the time and spend the money on doing therapy, when they round the bend from experiencing the symptoms of like the the up in their face symptoms of either depression or anxiety or something, and there's a sort of stabilized there. It's at that point that some of those, why questions can really emerge. And so I'm seeing that all the time, even apart from the COVID-19 situation. But um, I guess I mean, the way I come with that, I suppose, as I'm just thinking about my therapy hat on here is that a lot of the clients that I have, do have a religious background, so they're there. They are not so enamored with the how questions. You know, I guess a question would be how do I advance in my career? How do I raise my kids in a way that I can contain them and have caring discipline? How do I sleep better at night? That's right. That's right. To why like why, like, what, what is a parent supposed to be? Why do I exist on earth? And so if you've got a religious background, that you can be a little bit better off because you've got a massive backdrop of meaning. Theoretically, this kind of a god shaped at least the beginning of a god shaped answer for why, but the way I'll frame it with some of those more religious clients, and even those that aren't will kind of have a sense that there must be something right about this kind of a question. Here's how I frame it. And it's the question of calling. Like, what are you on earth to do? Hmm. What's your mission? And the way I tend to frame that with people is to say what gifts have you received? Not monetary gifts or material gifts, but what gifts of perception or character. What have you received? Often through your suffering or loss? That's when the gifts kind of show up somehow. Like that,

and how do those gifts equip you to bring a certain type of good into the world that the next person might not be equipped to bring? And that's what a calling is. It's, at least in this way of thinking about it. It's a, it's a, it's a certain kind of good that you're equipped to bring into the world that often comes at it as a kind of giftedness that results in you suffering well. In a calling at that level, it transcends how questions it transcends a lot of circumstantial questions about it even transcends like whether or not you're getting paid out of what you're doing. It's not your A career question calling is a transcendent career question. You can operate from within a calling, even in the face of the loss of your health, even in the face of the loss of a job. You can do it in retirement. And so yeah, a calling like that gets at some of the why I'm not going fully religious without an answer. But um, but people do need to have a sense of calling. And it's got to go deeper than career.

BF: What I like about that is that you're not saying let's ignore suffering, let's think positively. In some ways, you're saying let's sit in the separate. Yep. And figure out what it is in there that is jam, that's what I love about this is that it really calls you to to think about your actions in the midst of that. Ultimately just seeing the suffering in a very different persfective.

BK: That's right, all kinds of gifts that come out of suffering. And that's why, in fact, optimism earlier and optimism is great, but it's not great if it's used to somehow skate over suffering and to pull you out of it sooner than you have received the lessons that you're supposed to get from it. In the middle of suffering, you won't feel like there are great lessons. It's also cruel to tell the person who is in the mire. What are you learning? That is so rushy. And where am I therapeutic? I often think I'm seeing the beginning of an aha moment or a or a gift or kind of maturity being built into a person, but they may not even see it yet. And so it's, it's completely bad for him for me to rush them into that realization. But there is yes, a kind of attending to our own suffering. That often allows us to say, oh, my goodness, it's only because of this now that I am the kind of person Who can XY and Z who can bring Who? Who can? Who can empathize with those who have suffered the same thing who could become a person of patience? Where before I would have been too hurried?

BF: Yeah, you know, and what's nice is that it's a gift, right? And you can't unwrap that gift until you actually, as you said, suffer Well, sort of that endpoint. Once you're at that end point. Not that you're suffering but you've suffered well, which means that you got to some point where you can put your suffering into perspective. That's when you know you're separate. Well, you can open up the gift. Okay, kids, I might have to use that.

BK: Yes, we all need to. Yeah, and you can even be in the middle of the suffering even before you, you don't have to be a great philosopher of loss or suffering to get some of these gifts in the middle of it. For example, you can be in the middle of real suffering, you could be sick or out of a job or cut off from loved ones. And then lo and behold, me We just did this last week, we decided to make a bunch of cookies for a woman that lived up the street that was having her 40th birthday amidst this lockdown, which was a sad day for her in a way because she couldn't just have a party with people. But I don't think we would have thought to kind of put our own inconvenience and suffering apart. I mean, we In other words, we found a way to in the middle of our own suffering in quotes, which was minor compared to somebody a little chance to just be like a little sneaky, Pixie like gift giver of chocolate chip cookies. That felt like a version of deep meaning as minor that really was that was happening even amidst the loss. It was not Yeah, we weren't like philosophically or theologically, feeling very profound in that moment. We were just giving away some cookies, but boy, it sure felt really human in a good way.

BF: Hmm. Well, that like that he met me and maybe we're finding our humanity but this leads right really well unlike my last question. You're teeing it up pretty well. Because essentially, what you have said is that during this time that we're all going through this stuff, suffering, we're actually able to find gifts and our own gifts, our own qualities, maybe the gifts that maybe maybe the skill set, maybe you can say skill sets that we should arm ourselves with that makes us better people going forward. So this goes to my last question: another piece I wrote, which is in this new normal, who do we become? How do we bring some of these gifts forward with us some of this new your gift-giving mentality? However minor you thought it was? It's, you know, how do we bring these things that we found out about ourselves, these new meanings that we've discovered, how do we bring that forward when everything is going to get back to normal and everyone's going to be rushed again?

BK: Yeah, somehow I came across this quote from Proust this week where he said, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one can make for us, which no one can spare us. And, you know, COVID-19 is that wilderness. It's a wilderness that as he said, no one made up, no one can spare us from it. But it does offer a chance at a new wisdom. And here's what I mean about that is shelter in place rules have forced us to change our lifestyles, in many ways with respect to how we work with respect to how we rest with how we play, how we spend time with our families, which of our normal activities and commitments we had to give up. And so there's a huge opportunity in this as I see it, because it gives us a chance to start creating a rhythm of life that is healthier and much more sustainable and satisfying. Even after COVID-19 goes away, and so it's kind of like a hard reset moment. And to put it more concretely, I guess the question is, what kinds of things have you been forced to give up? That maybe you shouldn't go back to? And by that, I mean, you know, a lot of us have been very overscheduled people. What kinds of things just fell out of your schedule that you really would be crazy to build back in a chance or a hard reset here? I'm thinking about how many sports teams we might like not not go back to joining or, or other. Or, like, I don't know about you, but I'm finding like, gosh, I could, you know, I could really do a lot of meetings on zoom, and it would save a ton of driving around to different places. So there may be meetings that can move to email, for example, but some have noticed that Oh, my goodness, we can really be much more efficient and then instead of rescheduling that time that you gained by being more efficient, keep it as a margin. We're learning that margins we're all having. We have much more margin Now many of us, and what if we were to keep that margin? And I guess the other side of that is what kind of things have you started to do that you want to keep doing? So people are talking about having more family dinners. They're talking about lounging around together. The kind of pictures you see people posting on Facebook now show a lot more families just in this. It's not kind of the braggy Facebook photos that can happen where you're posing in front of some incredible Vista. Not that that's necessarily bragging I guess, but but it's, it's just they're like humdrum photos like we're here we are in the backyard. We swim we made somebody we made jello today. I like reading more for pleasure, more walks and hikes together. How many of those things should be built into the kind of life that we're, that we're becoming? And I think you could almost benefit by just getting paid in half by 11 pieces of paper drawing a line down the middle from top to bottom. And on the left side thing. What have I been forced to give up that I don't want to go back to? And the right column would be? What am I starting to do that I want to make sure I keep doing at all costs?

BF: I like that. Yeah, I think that's right. Think of the things that you have given up and you know, it's almost like looking at your credit card bill and saying, oh, boy, well, I never used that. And that I'm paying 995 for this St. Louis dispatch, try and take that off the list. Okay. And then, and then injuries and other things. Something that you brought up actually was the Venetian Ebenezer stone. So I actually looked that up. And I told my boys about it. And I said, I didn't even know in the 70s or didn't know what that meant. And I didn't realize that they were the stone statues that we often see over here by the bay and see a lot of people building that nice That's enough. So I want to get a jar, which I have. And so every night, and this will be something that we bring forward that you suggested that people think about. You're using new routines that you should bring forward. And we will bring this forward. And I might have mentioned this to you before, but before dinner, we always say one thanks, and one accomplishment. And so the stones will be one. Thank one. Thank you. But the other thing that I'm doing to make sure we remember this moment is I'm actually keeping a journal of all of those. So, everyone can look back and just laugh at what they were grateful for whether it was fortnight.

BK: That's right, that's right. Yeah, whatever it is. Yeah.

BF: But they'll always remember that and, and I don't think we would have ever ever instituted that routine in our life. If this didn't happen. Sadly. I just don't have the time. So, Brian, this is great. Just like the last time this way Awesome you, came up with a lot of things that I'm gonna have to look up like that post hoc ergo Aristotle quote, which I'm gonna have to look that up. Again. I'll have to tweet that one. Ryan, thanks so much me. I've been speaking with Brian Kay. He is I would say you're a historian of theology. Your family psychotherapist, you're also a pastor at Walnut Creek Presbyterian. And Brian, ee will have to do this again for sure.

BK: Thanks, Bambi. Sounds great.

[Editor's note: Future of Behavioral and Mental Health with BetterHelp, Headspace, Ginger.io, Providence Hospitals, UnitedHealthcare Optum, Khosla Ventures, Oak HC/FT and more has become 4 virtual conferences! Register one time for all 4 events! REGISTER. We also have our Future of Virtual Care event on July 1, which includes separate sessions throughout June. You can register for that HERE.]
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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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