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Hello! I’m Aaron Kardell. In my Sunday newsletter, I pick one random topic to go deep on and have some disparate quick hits at the end.
I get passionate whenever I see an injustice being committed. And I use the term injustice here in the broadest sense. There are actual systemic injustices that seriously need resolution – like the over-incarceration of people of color. And there are also trivial matters in my personal life that I treat as large injustices – like someone cutting me off in traffic.
One of the things I hope I’ve grown in over the past few years is that some things just aren’t as black and white as they may seem to me at first. For example, in some prior presidential election cycles, it was easy for me to draw many negative conclusions about many people.
Propaganda, a recording artist and spoken word poet says, “Nuance is sacred work.”
In our increasingly online world, it’s become common to treat people who don’t have the exact same views as yourself as “others” and “outcasts.” This has two rather adverse effects. First, it insulates us from connecting with potentially large parts of the population. Second, it gets in the way of rational thought and thinking for ourselves. You start to get a limited diet of diverse perspectives and, worse, may unknowingly look to fewer arbiters of truth to determine whether something is acceptable.
An increase in cancel culture has made it a norm to view some people as unredeemable. There are some actual monsters out there, and an increase in accountability for heinous acts is good. And yet, some people are “getting canceled” for a poor word choice on a bad day. Who hasn’t said something they wished they could take back multiple times? Maybe you’re lucky it wasn’t caught online in a public forum. I’d like to think we can all learn, grow, and find redemption.
One of my favorite podcasts is the Lex Fridman podcast. Lex is an engineer, and many of his guests focus on some deep scientific or engineering topic. But he often invites otherwise polarizing figures on various other matters. Lex often invites guests from both sides of an issue across multiple episodes. He does this in an attempt to better understand complex topics.
A recent episode of the podcast made me do a double-take. It’s no big secret that I really didn’t like President Trump. However, Lex’s interview with Jared Kushner made me question several things. On the one hand, I still believe that Jared was the beneficiary of nepotism in being installed in some high-level positions of power without prior qualifications. And I wish Jared wasn’t such a proponent of President Trump.
On the other hand, though, I now believe Jared is also a very thoughtful individual who took a novel approach and did some positive, impactful things with the power given to him. There are many things he said in the episode that I disagreed with. But there was a lot to learn from, too. As I often say, two things can be true at once.
I’ve wanted to write about the need for more nuance for a long time. But as I’ve tried to write on this topic for the last year, every example I’ve thought about previously feels like just too hot of an issue. I’ve got some nuanced takes on many controversial matters that I’m not ready to write about in a public forum. I don’t want to get canceled or written off. So, hopefully, you can appreciate the Jared Kushner example I’ve provided. For some of you, it will require a double-take, and for the rest, you will realize it was hard for me to say it.
I could write many more words on why empathy and nuance are needed now. But I’ll wrap up by saying this… before you react to someone’s hot take on a current conflict or on an upcoming election, try a little empathy. Empathy is seemingly much easier to find in face-to-face interactions, where it is easier to hear and see the nuance. It’s often hard to find online. Written words can more easily be mistaken or viewed outside of a larger context. It may be easier to cast a negative narrative on someone based on limited bits of information available. But especially with those individuals you’re close to, it’s worth it to fight past that and try to forge a deeper level of understanding. As Lex says, “Kindness and empathy is not weakness; it’s strength.”
This Week’s Quick Hits
After a long wait, it seems like we’re starting to see some progress on house build in Minneapolis. I hope to share more soon.
Have a nuanced take you want to share privately? I’d love to hear it. Reply here to email me, I’ll keep it confidence, and I won’t judge you. I would love to keep the conversation going.
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