Citizening at The Source (Dr. Sam Rader)

Show Description

So much of the conversation around democracy focuses on the external: from elections and policy to protests and organizing. While getting active is important...what could happen if we ALSO turn inwards? When we shift our relationship with our insides—what we believe and feel and the unconscious patterns we act from—our world shifts with us. In the final episode of season four, Baratunde sits down with Source Code creator and former psychologist, Dr. Sam Rader, about how we can learn to citizen on a deeper level. 

Show Notes & Actions

Show Transcript

Dr. Sam Rader  0:02

It's a radical act of citizening to change our story, to change the narrative that we're living within and our relationship to ourselves and others in the world of like, I won't participate in the otherizing, the dehumanizing, the fighting, the oppression. I won't. I'm not going to do that to me. I'm not going to do that to you. I am going to stand for love. I will stand for love, and in that beingness change my world.

Baratunde Thurston  0:34

Welcome to How To Citizen with Baratunde, a podcast that reimagines citizen as a verb, not a legal status. This season is all about how we practice democracy. What can we get rid of? What can we invent? And how do we change the culture of democracy itself? Relieving the theoretical clouds and hitting the ground with inspiring examples of people and institutions that are showing us new ways to govern ourselves. I can't believe this is the final episode of our fourth season of How To Citizen. I'm so glad you're here. Now, if you've been with us from the start, thank you, and I hope we've given you new perspectives, solutions and practices to get inspired by and to try. If you're new to the show, thank you as well. It is never too late to start citizen.

We kicked off this season with adrienne maree brown. It was a beautiful, expansive conversation about the importance of getting into right relationship with each other and seeing democracy is something we create at the micro level, at home and in our communities, not just at the macro level via the ballot box. adrienne shared this idea that I'm still playing with in my mind. The idea that the external systems we're fighting so hard against also exist inside of us. The inequality, racism, extreme capitalism, all the isms don't just exist out there, they take root in here. So as much as we need to citizen externally to make our communities and our country better by participating, investing in relationships, understanding power and valuing the collective, we also need to citizen internally.

And that brings me to our second pillar, invest in relationships. We have mostly focused on using that as a way to connect to the people around us and to the planet. But the full line is invest in relationships with yourself, with others and with the planet. And it's so important that we take that first piece, that relationship with ourselves as equal to the relationship with others in the planet.

Today, Dr. Sam Rader is helping us go deeper so that we can understand what it takes to create a culture within ourselves that supports creating a culture of democracy for all of us.

I was introduced to Sam through my wife, Elizabeth, who you should know by now, is executive producer of this show. And if I'm being honest, when I first met Sam, I thought she was a bit out there. She was always talking about alternative approaches to healing, and what we could learn from quantum physics, and what we could learn from psychedelics and how to undo our internal wirings from childhood and blah, blah, blah. It was a lot, okay? But over time, Sam and the way she sees the world, they started to click for me. In her 18 years of practicing psychology, Sam couldn't ignore these patterns she saw her clients living through and realized she needed to step outside of that traditional practice and try something new. So she developed an approach called Source Code, which she says focuses on the spiritual dimension of healing. Sam believes that our early childhood experiences write a code in our unconscious, which then determines the way our story unfolds. And she's committed to helping people rewrite their code.

And I want to be clear, this isn't talk therapy and I'm not going to ask you to lay back on your couch, but it is deeply vulnerable. What Sam asks people to do is get honest about the role we cast for ourselves in our lives and the responses we think we're hardwired to have. If you have any exposure to the modern world of wellness, or healing, or Instagram spirituality, then you know it can feel completely divorced from and even in denial of reality. I have found that Sam has a foot in both worlds, the internal and external. She protests, signs petitions, puts her money where her mouth is. I literally depend on her for my LA voting guide every time we have to vote, which feels like every other month. Sam is so dedicated to this inner work because she believes that our personal healing is what's going to help us create collective healing.

After the break, Dr. Sam Rader on the Source Code running our lives and how turning inward can help us create a culture of democracy that supports a just and loving world.

We are so excited to have you here to explore this belief that I've had for a while now based some on my own experience, based some on your work about the importance of healing ourselves before we can heal the world and how we can citizen better. So that's the crux of why you're here. And I want to start with just asking you, how did you come to make this connection that our internal worlds directly link to our experience of the external one? Did it happen in a moment, a series of moments with some of your discovery of this link?

Dr. Sam Rader  6:13

I was a psychologist for 18 years in private practice, starting with my practicum, going through having my own business. And I started to see that there were these patterns that people were coming in and saying the same things to me even across all different walks of life, all different socioeconomic status, race, gender, it didn't really matter, there were these universal patterns. And when I started relating with the patterns instead of the specifics of what the person was bringing in, I noticed that there were these radical shifts, not only in how the person showed up in the world, how they felt, how they behaved, but also how the world showed up for them. In an almost mystical way, things would change in their external environment to now reflect their new internal environment. And it started happening so many times that I couldn't unsee it.

And that's why I guess I walk this divine paradox, like yes, I create the voter guide every vote. I believe in citizening deeply. And I believe it's all an illusion, kind of how the Hindus have been saying for thousands of years, everything we're experiencing is part of ourselves.

Baratunde Thurston  7:29

That the idea that everything we are experiencing is a part of ourselves links to some of my infield experience is making America outdoors, and the idea that we are a part of nature, not a part from nature. And so we see ourselves in the external. In these patterns that you were seeing in your patients, your clients in the psychology realm, you described a shift in them that would then shift some of the world around them. What's an example of what you were noticing and what changed after you called attention to or intervened in some way?

Dr. Sam Rader  8:03

Yeah. So I was thinking in preparation for this interview about this client of mine whose political beliefs were those that are sort of associated with oppression. And when we explored his internal landscape and the sort of symbols that run him, we found that he experienced his father as depressive as a little one, and actually said sometimes when his father would get really angry, it felt like a silverback gorilla. And so we started talking about the silverback gorilla, this part that's so big, and so scary and gets to have all the power, and that that part is paired with this other part that feels so powerless. So in his symbolic landscape, there was this big thing and this little thing, and they went together in such a scary, disturbing way. And so if you're living in a universe where there's big guys and little guys and the little guys always lose, of course you're going to want to be a big guy.

Baratunde Thurston  8:57

It's logical.

Dr. Sam Rader  8:58

That's just that. So I never spoke to him about his political beliefs, and all we did was work on the symbols that run him, this awful split in power, these symbols of bigness, and smallness and oppression. And we started to alchemize those symbols and replace them with new symbols of togetherness, connection, empowerment, equality, equity. And we started shifting things down, down, down at that symbolic layer. And then he comes in and says to me, "I've been thinking about the way that I vote. I think there's something off here. I'm realizing it doesn't actually honor the human beings in the world." And then a few weeks later, he comes in and says, "It doesn't feel right anymore to have a gun." He had a gun. And it's like, yeah, well, if we're living in the big guys and little guys' paradigm of dominance, it makes a lot of sense to have a gun.

But this is someone who would find himself regularly in these pickles in life. People on the road would cut him off and they'd get in these battles, or just odd problems would be coming into his life in various social settings where there was a lot of conflict and shows of dominance. And as he shifted his internal landscape, those things just didn't show up in his world anymore. He wasn't being beckoned into that fight because he wasn't organized around fight.

Baratunde Thurston  10:25

Thank you for the silverback gorilla tale. I've been on a tour over the past few years doing a lot of talking and connecting, and one of the stories I've been trying to shift with the audience I connect with is like, I'm not here to take anything from you. There is so many of us wired to believe in what Heather McGhee, another previous guest on our show, calls the Zero-sum Game. If you get something, it's got to come at my expense. And it's like, that's a possible interpretation, or we could get more together.

Dr. Sam Rader  10:56

Which is how nature has worked for time immemorial. Everything springs up interdependent with one another. It's just this ecosystem of life that supports itself and each other, and everyone wins and everything keeps each other in checks and balances and thriving. Something about the way we've started to organize ourselves in the last couple thousand years, we're getting away from that. But we can also return to that.

Baratunde Thurston  11:24

I keep thinking back to the first conversation this season with adrienne maree brown. We spent some time on fractals. We talked about how fractals represent these patterns that replicate at the small, medium, at every scale. The implication being if we change something at the small scale, it will replicate. It will ripple to the larger scale. And I know you are a big fan of fractals, and even the story you shared, it hints at this. But where do fractals fit into your worldview when you think about the connection between shifting our internal world to shift the external world?

Dr. Sam Rader  12:03

So for those of you who don't know, a fractal is a pattern that keeps repeating at every scale. So if you zoom in, it's the same pattern. Zoom all the way out, same pattern. Turn to the left, same pattern. Turn to the right, same pattern. It's infinite. Fractals are everywhere in our universe. The branching in our lungs mirrors the branching in nature, and trees, and so on and so forth. So there are certain patterns that keep repeating. Now, Source Code is based on the idea that in our first five years of life, our early experience encodes into us some patterning. What we learn explicitly by what we're taught and also implicitly from how we're treated in our environment creates this deep patterning inside of us. And that pattern keeps repeating. So for that client, it was that pattern of dominance and oppression, and that pattern keeps repeating like a fractal.

There's actually this really beautiful book called You Matter More than You Think. It's written by Karen O'Brien, who's a professor of human geography at Oslo in Norway. And she talks about that this is a fractal universe, quantum physics and mathematics is bringing us closer to this knowing that we really do live in this place where it's all just patterns that keep repeating. And for us at the societal scale, how we're citizening, it's the idea of paradigms. So the paradigm of dominance has become really big, but it's become really big because as children, there's a lot of children who experience that dominance thing in their family system. So then it's encoded into them, then they embody it, and then our collective embodiment creates these larger macro systems that mirror like a fractal. So the cool part from that book, You Matter More Than You Think, is she says, every point is the center point in a fractal universe. So what each of us embody, how we show up, what we believe, how we citizen is the beginning of a new world, every moment can birth a new world of how we want to show up.

Baratunde Thurston  14:10

All right, so I literally got slightly emotional slash chills, because I don't think I speak just for myself when I say that the world can feel very frustrating, can feel very overwhelming in terms of the challenges. I could list off a litany of isms and ologies which are impeding our growth and our evolution, and patterns, and stories and systems that we were born into, sometimes literally in our family, sometimes more metaphorically as a society. And if I want to counter that, if I want to change that, I'm like, I got to join the right organization. I got to fund the right politician. Oh, everything they said was a lie? And what I'm hearing in this, You Matter More than You Think, and the center is actually everywhere, is that the front line is also in here. And so if I just start, the place, the space matters a little less than just the commencement. And maybe I could start with me and have that be my own frontline.

Dr. Sam Rader  15:11

Absolutely. Oh my God, I feel teary just hearing you talk about it. And in 2016 when Trump was elected, I wrote this cheeky article entitled, Why Trump's Presidency Might Promise More Hope and Change Than Obama's.

Baratunde Thurston  15:26

What? Okay, hold on. I'm with you. I'm with you. But I mean, that's very click baity. Very click baity. My emotions are moving now because nobody speaks against my man Obama.

Dr. Sam Rader  15:36

I'm not against Obama. I love Obama.

Baratunde Thurston  15:39

What you mean by that? What you talking about, Dr. Sam?

Dr. Sam Rader  15:42

Well, when we go looking out there and absolutely keep citizening, keep contributing, keep funding, keep going, keep protesting, and when we're only looking out there, we forget that power that every point is the center point in the fractal. So the way I see Trump is that he's kind of a caricature of our collective wound in this nation of otherizing. So he does this big thing about, "Let's build a wall, and these people are bad and I'm the greatest." And then we liberals say, "No, you are bad and we're good." It's just a mirror image. It's Malkovich, Malkovich.

So the dehumanizing that's festering at the core of our nation, he's coming forward as this big embodiment of that going, do you see who we are? And it's our opportunity and invitation to go inside and go, okay, where am I dehumanizing even them? Because if I had lived the sum total of their life experience, I would also believe and act the way that they are. And so it's like there are no bad people. Only hurt people, hurt people.

Baratunde Thurston  16:51

I've heard that line so many times. And the people who are hurt in turn hurt others. I think Trump is a tricky caricature as a particular example where yes, we hold the truth that hurt people, hurt people, and we act to counter the harm and the hurt that's being created by this person. It's both, at least for me, I don't even know if that's a question, it's more of a statement to get your response to because I don't want to feel like-

Dr. Sam Rader  17:23

Oh, yes. It's so important.

Baratunde Thurston  17:24

We just have to vaguely love hurtful people and the world's going to fix itself.

Dr. Sam Rader  17:29

Oh, yes. I do think there are some people who, because of their coping styles and wounds, are living in a little bit of denial of reality and doing what I call spiritual bypass, where they're like, everyone just needs to raise their level of consciousness. And I'm like, okay, you tell that to a slave in chains in a diamond mind right now. Oh, just raise your level of consciousness. We have to hold both. We have to hold both. That there are certain sticky spots in this universe where people don't have the flexibility, like on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, to be thinking about the quantum, and my embodiment and what story am I telling. Sometimes things are just really real. And how can we hold both? That our relationship to things matters, that our embodiment matters, that our beingness matters, and that there are very real things going on in the world that need to be stopped, that need to be talked about, that need to be addressed and not swept under the rug and ignored.

Baratunde Thurston  18:27

The and. yes, and. It's improv. It all comes back to improv comedy. I want to back up on some terminology. We've got Source Code. We've got a coding session rather than a therapy session. We've got symbolic versus concrete or circumstances, I think you used that word. Can you give us a lay of this linguistic land that you're also creating? What is symbolic versus the traditional way we tend to approach articulating our problems, our inner selves?

Dr. Sam Rader  19:02

Yeah, sure. So if we think about the client who had the dad that he associated with the silverback gorilla, the concrete circumstances in his life that week may have been that some dick cut him off on the road. He comes in and he wants to tell me about this specific situation that's so frustrating and so irritating, "And what do I do about these people everywhere that are trying to cut me off?" And it's this very specific thing, but instead of going with the concrete specifics, we're going to dive deeper beneath to the symbols, the symbolic landscape or symbolic nexus that got encoded into him when he was little that's running his life now. It's the algorithm of his matrix. It's what he notices. It's what he attracts. It's what he orients around. It's his favorite story to keep telling no matter how awful and enraging it is.

And so we go down, down, down, and we work with the symbols instead, like we were talking earlier, there's this gorilla in the mouse, the big part in the little part. Those are archetypal symbols. And when we can resolve things down at that symbolic layer, poof, his life shifts. He notices different things. He attracts different things. He creates different things. He embodies different things. He believes different things. He relates in a new way. And that's the work that I do.

Baratunde Thurston  20:21

Yeah. And I want to dive deeper into your Source Code world and your coping styles world. What have you found when you've gone inside? What are the wounds that you've been able to categorize and label and give some structure to help us make sense of that internal landscape so we could adjust how we show up in the external landscape?

Dr. Sam Rader  20:43

So source code has identified that there's 12 coping styles that we all share, and all of us have several. I had all 12, which is sort of what allowed me to be the conduit for the work. But those coping styles are the defense mechanisms that we inherit in our early experience when we don't get the precise support we need at each developmental stage. So all of us are walking around with these patterns or coping styles or glitches in our matrix that make things hard, these tough patterns that keep repeating. But what's more interesting to me is that under them, as soon as we dissolve them, which is what Source Code does, under those defenses, each of us is the most exquisitely beautiful energy, the most loving, relational, curious, playful, magical, gentle spirit waiting dormant inside of each of us to awaken beyond those defenses.

That's what I find inside when I assist someone in stepping out of a lifelong nightmare that they've been trapped inside of. When you think about your life, you notice those patterns that keep repeating. It's like, "Why am I always invisible? Why does no one hear me?" And it's because that's something that got encoded into you, and now you keep reliving it, but it doesn't have to be so.

This morning I received a DM from a student who was in a class with me last night, and she said, "I was feeling very upset and missed because in the first half of class every time I wrote something in the chat, you missed it. You skipped over that and read everyone else's. And I felt so invisible my whole life, and so during the break I decided, let me stand taller and speak my truth and speak my needs." She came forward and was like, "I won't be invisible." And then she got the love and the support she needed. So she saw that it was a pattern, a pattern from childhood that keeps repeating and she shifted her energy, she shifted her embodiment, she shifted what she's willing to participate in, I'm not going to keep playing out that old story, and then she got to have a new experience.

Baratunde Thurston  22:41

So what flash into my mind just now was an image. It's a Civil Rights image from 1968. The Memphis Sanitation workers are striking. They're all Black. They're holding up signs that simply say, "I am a man." Just affirming and asserting a different story, a different ownership of self that's been denied and encoded into laws and practices and cultures, also children who created those laws and practices and cultures and not being seen, not being humanized, but to humanize yourself first and demand that others humanize you as well. And so even in that image, for me, there is a bridge from this symbolic work and the things that are going on in any individual person, right back to the way you even protest, the way you show up can affirm a truth that you find in your own internal landscape.

Dr. Sam Rader  23:35

Yes, it's a radical act of citizening to change our story, to change the narrative that we're living within and our relationship to ourselves and others in the world of, I won't participate in that old way of being, the otherizing, the dehumanizing, the fighting, the oppression. I won't. I'm not going to do that to me, I'm not going to do that to you. I am going to stand for love. I will stand for love. And in that beingness change my world.

Baratunde Thurston  24:08

So standing for love, it literally sounds and feels beautiful. You've mentioned this term coping styles. Can you describe one or two of them and how they relate to that early childhood development?

Dr. Sam Rader  24:22

One of the things we're developing as children in our first five years of life is our sense of will. What do I have control over? What can I impact? What's my scope of influence? And we need to be able to feel that we can control things and not everything. It's got to be that optimal frustration. Like, "Ooh, I don't get to control absolutely everything." And also the optimal indulgence of, "But I do get to decide what I wear to school, but not a hero costume, not a superhero costume, but I can wear any of my shorts or any of my tops." So that we need to feel that we have some say, some voice, some choice, some agency-

Baratunde Thurston  25:00

Agency, power.

Dr. Sam Rader  25:01

But not despotic agency, not control over absolutely everything where our tantrums can control our entire family. So as we're developing our will, which really happens between 10 months of age and four years of age, during that process, things can go wrong in one of two ways, or both ways, which is we can be overindulged or we can be overly frustrated. And those create the indulged coping style and the frustrated coping style, and you can actually have both. But when we're overly frustrated, it's like everything is a no. We're constantly blocked and thwarted. Our will, doesn't matter, our voice doesn't matter, our needs don't matter.

And so the cool thing about the human spirit is that it can never be broken. The will does not disappear, but it goes underground and it turns against the self and against the world, and we become self sabotaging. And as frustrated, people feeling bad starts to feel good somehow. We couldn't win by winning, so we learn how to win by losing and making everyone else lose. And we feel a lot of stuckness, a lot of resistance, a lot of war-like energy. Life is hard, that's our mantra. And we're literally frustrated. And the antidote to frustrated is to get in flow, to say no to what we don't want directly instead of kicking under the table, say yes to what we do want, what we want, get what we want and feel clear, feel direct.

So one of the ways that the frustrated coping style can play out in terms of citizening, is if we feel like there's no way to win and my will doesn't matter and I won't be heard, why the F would we show up to vote? I don't matter. No one listens to me anyway. F the man. And we don't realize we are the man. I am the man. I am one of we the people who get to decide what goes on here. But if we didn't feel empowered as children to be able to make decisions, then as adults, we also don't feel we have the power to make decisions. So the indulged coping style is sort of equal and opposite. It's, when during the time of socialization, no one sort of showed us how we impacted others. So either we were deeply indulged by our parents or neglected by our parents. And in either of those situations, our will ruled the roost, whatever we wanted, we got.

Baratunde Thurston  27:30

That's what I'm feeling. I'm feeling like, I don't know who coined it, but to the person born into the benefits of a system of oppression, other people's freedom feels like their oppression because, "Wait, you got something you wanted? Well, that was mine. I was supposed to get that." And so we've indulged at scale some groups of people, men have been indulged relative to women in the world, the backlash to feminism by people like an Andrew Tate, who's a caricature as well. There's something indulgent about that. The lack of patience, perspective, respect, that someone else's will also matters.

Dr. Sam Rader  28:08

Yes, and really the indulged experience is an unawareness that anyone else is even real or exists or matters. It's, I want what I want at any cost and I'm going to get it. It's kind of like the Stanford marshmallow experiment. I can't even think about later, I never really fully developed my frontal lobes and-

Baratunde Thurston  28:28

I think you're talking about an experiment involving torturing children with access to marshmallows.

Dr. Sam Rader  28:34

Tourturing children! It's like, if you don't eat this one now, you can have two later and torturing them. It's developing their capacity to wait and to-

Baratunde Thurston  28:42

That's what a PhD would say, yeah. From the outside I'm just like, "Give the kid the marshmallow. Come on man, they're a child, they can't rationalize this."

Dr. Sam Rader  28:50

Right, right. Well that's that critical period in development when they start to be able to either wait or not wait. And if we can't wait, we have that indulged coping style. So how that looks as a citizen is, "Why would I vote? It doesn't affect me."

Baratunde Thurston  29:04

It doesn't affect me, yeah.

Dr. Sam Rader  29:05

Yeah. It's all, me, me, me, me, me. It's not anything against anyone else. It's, I don't want to mess with anyone else, but don't tread on me. Don't take away my freedom. Don't take away-

Baratunde Thurston  29:19

That's a whole flag.

Dr. Sam Rader  29:19

Right, exactly. Don't take away my capacity to always have exactly what I want in every moment because I'm used to that indulgence.

Baratunde Thurston  29:29

So with these styles, you've mentioned the word antidote as far as what we do with them. What does that mean? What are we trying to do with these styles beyond get over them or process them? What's the goal?

Dr. Sam Rader  29:42

I like to say that we go from being possessed by them to possessing them. I have this coping style, but I'm not unconsciously ruled by it. So each of the styles has an antidote, which is the healed position. So for indulge, the healed position is actually interbeing, which is a term coined by the late Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh. He coined that term to talk about how within every single being is every other being. So in a piece of paper, you've got to know about the tree that made that paper and the birds and the squirrels that lived inside of that tree, and the water and the sunshine that nourished the tree, and the logger that cut the tree and the mill worker who made the paper, and the mothers of the humans who were involved with making this book, who fed them from the land and the Big Bang that created all of this divine unfoldment forever ago.

So starting to know about we are all nodes in a web of being. I'm not the only node. And really the wound inside of the indulged wound is that we didn't grow up in a village. And it's this deep emptiness that causes this consumerism and this need for more and more and me and me, because we don't have a sense of belonging. And so we're in this sort of solitary confinement of the myth of separation that it's me against you and we're competing for finite resources dominating a land instead of being of the land of the animals of one another and belonging. If we had that sense of togetherness and rootedness and belonging, we wouldn't be, "Oh, me me, me, give me, give me."

Baratunde Thurston  31:29

You just described something Elizabeth and I talk about a lot, why the suburbs is responsible for gentrification in the hood? It's like people who didn't grow up with a village out there in the boonies coming into the city because it's cool, don't know how to be around other people. See some Black kids on the stoop playing music, don't know how to interb. So they call the police instead and say, "This is disturbing my existence. This noise is foreign to me, therefore I have to squash it and mute it and silence it and push it away." And that's a lack of practice at interbeing, at some larger, but still, I think, parallel level. That's my translation.

When I'm hearing things that have to do with early childhood development and what we inherit, I think of generational healing, these interconnections between generations. What does that term mean to you? And do you see any connection between that and our ability to create better circumstances to have a healthier democracy, to create a healthier culture of democracy through generational healing?

Dr. Sam Rader  32:36

Absolutely. So we're talking about the fractal nature of reality and how our outsides reflect our insides and how our insides get encoded in our first five years of life. So we are born into a long lineage of unconscious generational pain handed down through the millennia, but for some incredible reason, we're alive right now at the time where we actually have the capacity to become aware of these paradigms and dynamics and patterns and say, "The buck stops with me. I won't unconsciously pass this down to my children. I'm going to see these things and I'm going to shift them." When I would do it as a psychologist, it would take me a long time and it was pretty laborious because I was working with the mind, which can play tricks and go around in circles. But the thing about energy is it can shift in the now. I did a coding session on someone-

Baratunde Thurston  33:28

That's what you call coding sessions in Source Code, okay.

Dr. Sam Rader  33:31

Yes, because we just work with the symbolic code, we don't work with any of the circumstances going on in your life. But I was coding someone who essentially realized and named, "I was born into this metal chamber of fear around me. My father had one kind of fear, my mother had another kind of fear and both made me feel so trapped and so scared, and I can't trust myself." And so we started to know about that, started to know about the metal chamber, started to feel how impossible it was, how it was, can't, can't, can't, and we started to dissolve and resolve that so that he could energetically feel this shift of that outside thing oppressing him, release.

And he was like, "I trust myself. I trust my instincts. I trust my energy. I've never felt like this in my body before. I've never felt this much good energy circulating in my body." And I said, "There's always some fear when we outgrow our parents' paradigm that we're going to have to split off from them or that this means we don't love them. But no, we invite them in. We go, 'Come with us, there's a new world where we're not ruled by this metal chamber of fear. Come with me. I love you. Let me contain you in a new way. Let me show you. This is evolution.'" And he felt it. He was like, "I want to invite them into this new world. I don't want to keep living as a captive to my parents' childhood wounding."

Baratunde Thurston  34:59

It seems like if we break or shift our paradigms, if we rewrite some of our code that can also shift the relationships around us. If we outgrow our parents, we're also shifting, and maybe they're not ready for that shift. Maybe we are losing people if we are erecting a new boundary and they don't fit on the new inside of us. Can you speak more to the consequences, especially relationship-wise, of shifting our internal landscape?

Dr. Sam Rader  35:30

Yeah. I think that sometimes people have such calcified coping styles and we're so tormented as little ones that they show up in a way now as adults that really is legitimately unsafe. That no matter how relational we try to be, no matter how safe we are as we show up, no matter how much love and understanding and forgiveness, which is just understanding that we give, they're still abusive and cruel and frightening and disturbed. If that is the case, I do understand erecting that boundary of, until you can be kind, I'm not available for contact.

And another one of my students a couple of days ago had an experience with her father where he has really not shown up for the family, and my student's sister is quite sick. And she said, "Hey dad, this is what's going on with my sister's condition right now in the ICU." And he said, "I didn't need to know that." And she used the technique that I just taught them, which is, if you want to go deeper, just go slower. And she said, "You didn't need to know that." She just mirrored that back to him slowly. And he said, "It's hard to hear that." And he started showing up. He went to the hospital for the first time, which he wasn't planning on doing. He reached out to his other children, which he wasn't planning on doing. So her courage in that moment to not be victimized to his pattern, that she'd experienced her entire life and instead lovingly reflected back to him patiently, slowly, he shifted because within each of us is that essence I was talking about, an innate healing function that wants to express and receive love. And she gave him the opportunity to be freed from that lifelong defense of avoiding.

Baratunde Thurston  37:26

With a person like the father you shared with us, I almost want to say being forced, but even that language doesn't feel adequate, being given the opportunity to see themselves, a lot of folks don't get that. And it was done slowly, just gently in this particular example. And there's power in just holding up that mirror with love, but still holding it. You're not accepting it, you're just saying, "Here you go, you like what you see?" Without saying all those words either.

Dr. Sam Rader  37:58

Yes, and that is the essence of Source Code. That's all we do is we hold a loving mirror up to the code. With precise aim and accuracy, reflect the code back to itself. And it starts to shift.

Baratunde Thurston  38:12

I keep finding these other historic, external world, concrete world examples. I'm a huge fan of Frederick Douglass. I think he was just savage with his language. This brother held up a mirror lovingly to a country that, in so many ways, refused to see itself honestly. But he found words, he found language, he found jokes, he found rhetoric. He found panache and style to help dress up what was ultimately a mirror. Is this your 4th of July, America? Is this what you're celebrating? In one of his most epic and famous pieces, which is posed as a question, "What to the slave is the 4th of July?" The power of the mirror, fractally, with a father figure or with a founding father figure.

Dr. Sam Rader  39:02

Absolutely. Because, when we mirror something back to itself and it starts to alchemize and dissolve and shift, that person is now the center point of a fractal universe in a new reality, a reality that can connect instead of disconnect. The ripple effect of every minute change is unspeakable. I literally went to a yoga class a couple of days ago, and it was so good that I was like, "What is going on here?" She was having us talk to our neighbor, touch our neighbor, look at eye contact.

When we walked out, she sprayed each of our faces with rose mist, all 50 of us from the class. And I said, "Alex, what is happening?" And she goes, "I read your chapter." And I was like, "What?!" She said, "I was inspired by your book, and it shifted me." Her shift from reading my book shifted that class. Those 50 people are walking out into the world now from a place of deeper connection, oneness, interbeing, love, safety, joy, pleasure, beauty. Whoa. Every ripple effect is so, so strong and so meaningful.

Baratunde Thurston  40:16

What I took is spray myself in the face with rose water. See, we all have our stories, right? That's my coding. That's my-

After the break, Sam shares how we can recode ourselves without abandoning our responsibilities to our communities. How do we stay present to the process of recoding ourselves while still being present to our responsibilities to others, to our families, to our communities? Do you have any advice on how to practice the both here?

Dr. Sam Rader  40:54

Yeah. Actually, that question speaks to one of the other coping styles, called the premature style. I won't go too deep into it, but it's basically this idea that my only way to know about love is to give, that receiving is not okay. So all my energy goes out. I give, I do, I volunteer, I caretake, but we don't know about feeding, receiving, needing. It just feels wrong. It's a feeding injury from toddlerhood.

But, when we're premature, it really feels like a split, like either/or. That split around giving, I can either give or receive, it's a misunderstanding because, if we just give and give and give, we're pouring from an empty cup, and eventually we burn out. But, when it's that beautiful loop of nourishment, of taking in, tasting the love, receiving, receiving, receiving support, receiving care, receiving guidance, and feeling so nourished and so full of it it's like, "My cup runeth over. Of course I'm here to share and show up for you." It's as simple as put your own oxygen mask on first. It's a give and take that's much more sustainable and pleasurable for everyone.

Baratunde Thurston  42:06

Much of your work centers on this belief that what we experience in our families, our early childhood, shapes our lives as adults in major ways, and in talking about dissolving these childhood wounds, these coping styles we pick up. But you've also mentioned the importance of growing up, right? When we do this work, we're growing up from this adolescent stage and stepping into more fully-formed adulthood, becoming elders, not necessarily in age, but in self-knowledge. What does that shift look like to you? Can you give any other examples of how someone can begin to think about moving past that hurt child into more full adulthood or elderhood?

Dr. Sam Rader  42:47

My sense is that we've been living in what I call the age of the wounded child, where that generational pain has been passed down through the millennia.

Baratunde Thurston  42:58

Hello, Trump. Hello, Elon. Sorry, I just, again ...

Dr. Sam Rader  43:02

Well, that's right. Is it's not just us that are wounded children, but it's also our leaders that are wounded children. So our infrastructure, our laws, and the systems that are holding us are created by wounded children, and they perpetuate wounds. So it is my heart's greatest wish and my intuitive prediction that we are now exiting the age of the wounded child. What that means to me is becoming true elders. In indigenous communities, they know about the importance of that rite of passage into elderhood. Adolescents go through vision quests and other rituals to have an initiation into elderhood. We don't have any of that. We're still running around as wounded children creating democracy as wounded, stinking children.

Baratunde Thurston  43:47

In our adult body suits. You know?

Dr. Sam Rader  43:50

Yes. I'm always inspired by psychotherapist and soul activist Francis Weller. He talks about how moving from adolescence to elderhood is about going from looking for places of connection, seeking for places of connection, to building them. So I want to talk about when you talked about Grace Lee Boggs and adrienne maree brown reference to that. In that interview, the first interview of this season, she was talking about Grace Lee Boggs being accused of a politician of being a naysayer. "You don't like the way we're running this country." She said, "Yeah, I'm not just a naysayer, I can create." She went out and created many places of belonging and places of social change.

One way to citizen and to become an elder is to literally go out and create places of belonging. Also, if we think about Source Code, the fractal nature of the universe, and that our inside world creates our outside world, simply our beingness when we stand for love is inviting people into the new world. Instead of saying, "Gosh darn it, I'm living in a world that I don't like, that doesn't resonate, that doesn't feel like a fit, that doesn't feel safe, that's not organized the way that I want it," and focusing on what we don't want, instead, we embody and live into exactly what we do want. The yoga teacher brought a little more love to the room, and everybody lit up. When we bring more love into everything we do, that's how we citizen. That's true elderhood.

Baratunde Thurston  45:22

Yeah. What does that true elderhood look like for you in your life?

Dr. Sam Rader  45:27

Oh, I might cry. I was talking to a friend who's known me since I was 15. She was looking at the Source Code community, and she said, "My god, Sam. You created the love you always knew was possible." By the way we relate with each other in Mighty Networks, our membership, all of the courses, all the groups, is radical transparency, unconditional love, safety, unconditional welcoming, and the boundary that cruelty is not okay, meanness is not okay, hiding is not okay, lying is not okay. There are pillars of boundaries protecting this space, but, within that, everything else is just met with love, understanding, support, care, and fun. It's really fun. I think fun is a big part of the new world.

Baratunde Thurston  46:16


Dr. Sam Rader  46:16

I think we've been taking things really seriously for a long time.

Baratunde Thurston  46:18

Yes. You're like a quantum time traveler. So your report back from the future world being more fun is welcome news. Thank you. Our own Paul Revere from the symbolic world to tell us that fun is on the horizon, not just threat. Congratulations on your own transition into elderhood and breaking that cycle, and thank you for sharing that with us. That's also a demonstration, and I think a lot of us expect stoicness, stiffness, hardness, and coldness, and softness is also very powerful. So, yeah, thanks for practicing and not just preaching.

There's a sequencing in terms of... I guess it's a statement I'll make, and then see how you respond.

Dr. Sam Rader  47:04


Baratunde Thurston  47:04

Because I'm putting some of these pieces together that you've shared already, that, even if we embrace a fight mentality, we have a fight lens, we have a fight writer in our internal writer's room that sees and projects everything into the world as a fight. I'm a fighter, that's my identity. I'm just going to do that all day every day. Real hard. That's how I'm going to citizen. I'm going to citizen as a fight. We have us-them, right? It's us versus them. I'm going to citizen in this binary of you versus me as opposed to you and me.

So people who've done no internal searching whatsoever are citizening every day. But it seems like, while we're doing some of that external stuff, if we rewind a little bit, if we dive inward, citizen inward, then the effect of what we're doing externally is going to be healthier, more sustained, last longer. So is it a prerequisite? Is it preferable to try to work on and heal some of those wounds before we engage fully in all the dreaming together? Otherwise, we might corrupt our own dreams and envision something that's not as whole or as healed as we really want the world to be.

Dr. Sam Rader  48:15

Yeah. I think that's exactly right. I noticed this when my students try to dream about what they want for their personal lives or their life at large, and their dreams are tainted by their coping styles. They don't even realize it. I had a student who just really wanted to win his court cases so that the judge would believe him, and that was an enactment of his childhood when he was judged and wouldn't be believed. It's like, what do you really want beyond the wounding? Yeah. But I don't think it's that binary. First you have to do this, and then you have to do this. It's always like it's all happening simultaneously.

Baratunde Thurston  48:49

Because the center point is everywhere.

Dr. Sam Rader  48:52


Baratunde Thurston  48:52

I'm picking up what you're putting down.

Dr. Sam Rader  48:54

But I feel like I want to share this story because this idea of dreaming together can sound a little woo-woo. There was this troupe of wild baboons in Kenya that was studied by a man named Robert Sapolsky, and he wrote a book called A Primate's Memoir. What happened was that this was... Let me back up. Primates are one of the only animal species with a lot of learned behavior. Most animals are just guided by instinct, but we actually teach our young how to do things, like use tools or what the social rules are. In this particular troop of baboons, like all baboons, there were alpha males who were really violent and rowdy and there was a lot of oppression in the group. So the female baboons were taunted and knew males coming in from other troops, which is what the adolescents do. They have to leave home and find a new troop so that there's no inbreeding. They would taunt the new males and haze them, and they would prevent the females from grooming them in order to assert their dominance.

Baratunde Thurston  49:56

Sounds like a college fraternity.

Dr. Sam Rader  49:57

Yes, exactly. So these males were going and eating food from a nearby tourist attraction place, from the dumpster, but only the alpha males were allowed to go eat that special food. They contracted tuberculosis through the food and they died. All the alpha males in the troop died, and it was mostly female baboons. Their instinct and their sensibility was to groom everyone, to touch everyone, and to include everyone. So new males that would come into the circle would be immediately met with touch, welcoming connection. And it became maybe the first peaceful troop of baboons. There was no conflict, there was no fighting, there was no hierarchy, there was no alpha. It was a new culture. New baboons are coming in all the time into this, and so he didn't know what would happen. But the researcher, seven years later, came back, and it was still peaceful. Which is why I say things can shift now. If every human laid down their arms, literally and metaphorically, that would be that.

Baratunde Thurston  51:12

Are you saying we have to kill all the alpha males, Dr. Sam?

Dr. Sam Rader  51:16

No, we have to love them and set boundaries with them.

Baratunde Thurston  51:20

Right, right. Sorry. Again, that's my inner child who was bullied.

Dr. Sam Rader  51:23

Yes. Till there are other ways to be powerful. They just don't know how else to be powerful. They're scared. I get it.

Baratunde Thurston  51:30

There are other ways to be powerful.

Dr. Sam Rader  51:33

I know, in the moments when I get intense and dominant, it's because I'm scared. It's because I'm scared. When I am feel held and supported and safe and attuned to and believed, I calm down, I stop dominating. So I'm just like them. We all are.

Baratunde Thurston  51:54

That's really powerful. I'm just like them. Can be very hard to say about people we judge harshly. Because we want to believe that we're nothing like them. My sister, Belinda, is nine years older, 30 years wiser. She is a yogi, she's a Buddhist, she is a teacher and very spiritual leader in Lansing, Michigan. I don't know if she'd call herself a spiritual leader. That's baby bro looking up his sis. But I remember, during some of the deep intensity of the Trump era, in her yoga classes, she was encouraging people to feel compassion toward Donald Trump. A lot of her students were like, "That's where I draw the line, B. We not doing that. He's nothing. I am nothing like... " She's like, "There is a part of us represented there. It's not the part we want to amplify. We don't want to turn it up to 11 the way he's caricaturistically displaying, but we got to recognize the self in the other."

Our very first guest, Valerie Kaur, shared that lesson with us. There is no stranger. The stranger is a part of myself I do not yet know, I do not yet acknowledge. So thank you for sharing those words and that perspective that we are in everything. We are in everything. We ask all of our guests one final question because we have a definition here of citizen as a verb, we have some principles associated with that interpretation. But, given your life story, given your work, given your Source Code and the coping styles and everything you've been journeying through, what does it mean to you, the word citizen, if we interpret it as a verb?

Dr. Sam Rader  53:26

I suppose it's the functional side of knowing about interbeing. That we're a part of something larger. That each of us matters. That what we do affects everyone else, and what they do affects us. And that it's worth giving that some time and attention and care.

Baratunde Thurston  53:45

We have a transition now to a live audience Q&A. Yes. All right. Yeah, say your name, where you're at, and your question.

Cynthia Loy Darst  53:53

Cynthia Loy Darst. I'm in Palm Springs, California today. I think a whole hell of a lot of people are working to be more self-aware, and I'm loving your way into it. I think it's fantastic. What I keep noticing time and time again, and you've mentioned it just a little bit today, is that sense of I'm growing in my goodness and awareness, and, if they would just stop, everything will be okay. Those jerks need to leave for my world to be wonderful. And I'm just wondering if there's just one other thought you might give us around our own work there.

Dr. Sam Rader  54:41

What I do with Source Code is I look for the symbolic realm. Everything we're experiencing is a reenactment of our early experience in our coding. If our sense of self is, "I feel okay in here, and, if they out there would just stop, everything would be okay," that person is telling us about what it felt like to be a very young child. If they would just stop, everything could be okay. That echo and that haunting of that feeling as a little one becomes how we see the world, how we make sense of the world, and how we talk about the world.

So, if I was doing a coding session with that person, I would say, "We need to know about this thing outside that's doing something that feels like it just wishes something could stop this." Inside feels okay, but outside doesn't feel okay. We just work that symbolically. As we did, something would shift inside, and, because we're fractal, something would shift outside.

Baratunde Thurston  55:46

How much time we talking? Five minutes, five weeks, five months? What's the lag time? What's the Doppler effect on the internal shift to the external shift? I'm sure there is no formula, but I am curious about measuring the ripple and when we see signs that something has actually changed.

Dr. Sam Rader  56:07

I think, again, it's the yes-and. It changes everything right now, and there's also incremental change over time.

Aaron Mast  56:14

Thank you. Aaron Mast from the good old little state of Delaware, not the city on Ohio. First off, Sam, thank you so much for everything, for your insight. I am very aware of my short temper and ease of frustration sometimes with my kids. Been working on it. I'm much better where I am now than where I used to be about two years ago probably. I have a son who's turning five. Pretty sure with my short temper and frustration, I've already imprinted on him a little bit at least. Just want to know, do I need to work on myself? Is it better to change my code first before I start working with him, or can we do this together?

Dr. Sam Rader  56:51

Aaron, I just want to celebrate you coming forward as a man and owning your impact on your child and owning your coping styles with such grace and dignity.

Dr. Sam Rader  57:02

And owning your coping styles with such grace, and dignity. I find that when we change, our children change without much effort sort of instantaneously, especially if they're younger. But I want to speak to this part of you that I think is the omnipotent coping style, which is one of my core wounds, which is how we didn't feel safe as infants. This is pre six month stuff. And so when everything is not ordered in the way we think it needs to be, we feel very threatened, and frightened, like life or death kind of feeling, and we explode. And so I would encourage you to be with your five month old, six month old little Aaron, and hold him, and just let him know he's safe, because the antidote to omnipotent is safe. We didn't feel safe. Things don't feel safe, and that haunting comes with us into adulthood.

Things have to feel very controlled, or else they don't feel safe. And so we just want to wrap that little baby you in so much love that didn't feel safe, and that wasn't helped through feeling difficult feelings, and knowing that it's all okay. It's like okay to not feel okay sometimes. We didn't get that support. And so in feeling not okay, feels really not okay, and it becomes a very fast zero to 60 reaction. So, notice what might shift for you if you can hold this part of you with even more care the way that a very young infant needs to be attuned to instead of judging the self, which I didn't really hear you doing, but I just want even encourage more love, and more understanding for this very young part that still doesn't feel safe yet. Just help him feel safe little by little, and come join us in the Source Code community we can help.

Baratunde Thurston  58:46

Thank you so much for that question, Aaron. I thank you've captured, and represented many people beyond yourself. So, you've done a bit of citizening right there. All right, next in the queue is Meshach Weber. Go ahead with your question.

Meshach Weber  59:00

I'm calling from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Meshach Weber. So, what I find creates a lot of change is kind of simple recipes, and I was just wondering if there's just a few everyday things that come to mind that we can do to help create a stronger sense of inner being ourselves or others, the belonging that you talked about, or any of these other kind of healing methodologies. I was just kind of curious if you had kind of everyday practices that people might have in mind.

Dr. Sam Rader  59:29

I think what's beautiful about the process of healing is it's often a lot more gentle, and a lot more pleasurable than we thought. So, one way to activate a sense of intervening is to just connect with ourselves first, because again, deepen our hearts, deepen our bones, deepen our beings, deep in our bodies is all the truth we would ever need to know, and this deep connection with all things. So, simply slowing down, having a cozy cup of tea, journaling, getting a massage, which Baratunde, and I are huge proponents of.

Baratunde Thurston  1:00:04

Massages for freedom. That's my new movement.

Dr. Sam Rader  1:00:07

Baths, snuggles. It's really that simple. It's just softening, becoming more embodied, connected to that deep wisdom that lives inside of all of us. And our connection with all that is.

Baratunde Thurston  1:00:18

When you say embodied Sam, what does that mean?

Dr. Sam Rader  1:00:21

I think the way that I used it just there was different than I sometimes use it, but when I just said embodied, I meant living more from the energy in our body than the little ticker tape in our minds. And also when I talk about embodiment in terms of emerging from a coping style, and entering its antidote, when we are stuck in a coping style, we are stuck in a certain embodiment. It makes us tense, it makes us feel a certain way in our tummies, in our viscera, in our emotions, in our energy field. And if we shift that embodiment, and we start to soften, and loosen, that's why I say the shift can happen in the now with energy is like, "Oh, I'm not closed anymore. I'm open." And that shift in embodiment to walk through the world open, receptive, warm, heart-centered creates those ripple effects. It's not just a concept that we think about in the mind, it's an actual embodied way of being, and living.

Baratunde Thurston  1:01:18

Thank you for that. And thank you Meshach. We have a question from Elizabeth Gratch that our producer, Allie, will voice for us, which means you all get to meet Allie.

Allie Graham  1:01:30

Hello, this is Allie coming in from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and I'm voicing Elizabeth Gratch's question, so, this is for Baratunde. Have you always been able to nurture your confidence, and was there someone, or someones in your life who helped set that beautiful self-possession focus, and drive in motion, and how?

Baratunde Thurston  1:01:51

Yo, not expecting a question for me. Thank you Allie/Elizabeth. I had a complex, and diverse array of early coding by my mother, and by my hood, and it was filled with a lot of love, and the confidence that you are perceiving, first, thank you for nice words, self possession, focus, drive. I'm like, I'll put this on the LinkedIn, but I remember that my friends often dreamed of being things that their parents wanted them to be. And I noticed that because my mom was so different. She was just like, "You could do this, or you could do that. You could be an actor if you want, or you could be like a gardener or as you tell me now, a garbage man", I really wanted to be a garbage man for a long time, because you get to ride on trucks, yay, and you get free stuff double, yay.

It's a win-win situation. That built a early habit of me of confident exploration, of possibility, because there was not so much weight attached to the specific path that I would walk, just encouragement to find, and walk the path. So, I just give a thousand pounds of credit to my mom for encouraging that, and embedding that piece in me. She embedded some other stuff, too, that wasn't always sustainably useful, but an answer to that question, that's mom's work. So, thank you. Rest in peace, Anita Lorraine Thurston, and whatever you're perceiving there, Elizabeth is a piece of her shining through.

Dr. Sam Rader  1:03:25

I just want to acknowledge that a lot of what we inherited from our parents was really good, and beautiful, and useful. So, much of our coding works, it's just these 12 glitchy things that are in our way, but all of us got good stuff, too.

Baratunde Thurston  1:03:42

Thank you for that. The way you describe these styles is, I think, healthily judgment neutral, right? You talk about finding antidotes, not destroying, erasing, shaming. These are not like diseases to be eradicated. They are pieces to be integrated, not being possessed by but possessing. And so if we can own those parts, then we can own our full selves. And I always skip to the macro metaphor with a society, a city, a nation, a species, and it's like let's own the glitches. They are features not bugs, and they give us an opportunity to walk a different, and better path. They give us an opportunity to learn. They give us an, oh, yay me, I get a chance to recode myself. I get a chance to refound myself. I get a chance to reconstitute myself, and a nation at the same time. All right, last up, we've got Jeanine de Novais, one of our most frequent contributors.

Janine du Novais  1:04:47

Thank you. Janine du Novais, Philadelphia. Here's my question. It comes from my location as both a parent, and a daughter. This has been so resonant for me in this way, and I think other people too. I'm looking at Erin, and other folks in the chat where we were kind of resonating about how we raise our kids, and then how do we raise up the little us that was hurt. So, my question is in that silverback example, right? We're all very seduced into being the silverback. Like we all have a version of a scenario where being the silverback is adaptive, it's safe. It has worked for, in my case, 40 some odd years. It satisfies my ego, it matches the world around as opposed to being soft. So, I'm in this work all the time, and I'm wondering if you have daily practices for interrupting that seduction to be the silverback of your own life.

Dr. Sam Rader  1:05:51

Thank you so much, Janine. And that question really helps me clarify that to me. It's not that the alternatives are silverback, or soft, that's still that old paradigm of dominance. But to me, standing for love is very firm. Very firm. Do not touch that stove, because I love you. I love you. It's different. So, it's beautiful that you're firm with your children. They need that. Where is it coming from? If it's coming from love? Yay.

Baratunde Thurston  1:06:30

I want to formally thank you again, Sam, for being a part of this with us. Welcome to the How to Citizen community, and thank you for showing us how to citizen within so that we can citizen better out there.

Dr. Sam Rader  1:06:44

Thank you. I have truly loved being here. I've been listening to your podcast from the beginning, and it is an honor in my life to be your dear friend, and to learn from you. You are quite a force of love, and goodness in this world.

Baratunde Thurston  1:07:01

In the face of all this work we've collectively got to do, it's easy to feel like the last thing we have time for is ourselves, but I want us to really take in what Sam said. It's a radical act of citizen to change our story, to change the narrative that we're living within, and our relationship to ourselves, and others in the world. She reminds us, she reminds me, these issues, especially the current culture, the things that we don't like about the way the world works, they all came from us, too. We are at the end of our fourth season, and I'm so glad that Sam helped us close it out. After this interview, we let Sam drop off the Zoom, and I stayed on to have a conversation with a few of the live audience members. And I got a question that felt heavy.

Aaron Mast from Delaware asked, "What direction do you see the country headed in? Do you have hope for our future, for my kids' future?" Woo, Aaron put his kids on me. That was a lot. That was a lot. And I want to share with you a version of what I shared with Aaron. I see the United States of America getting harder to live in. You can sense it in the weather, and that's not a metaphor. Literally the weather, you see it on the ground in our behavior. There's something really sad about a nation that requires this many firearms. It's an explicit indicator of the lack of inter being, the lack of trust that we're all building walled cities around our two car garages, and trying to recreate entire societies within that, as opposed to joining, and participating in the societies we're already a part of. And so what I'm observing is this large slide in that direction, and it feels like it's picking up speed.

I don't think the climate migrants knocking on our southern border are inspiring, evolved levels of political response from our federal, or many of our state governments. I don't think that the human beings who are recognizing the inner being within themselves in terms of gender identity, and giving a voice, and new names to that, I don't think they're being met with the most mature, evolved, healed response from the prevailing establishment of rule makers, and gatekeepers. And I don't think most of us are afforded enough time, space, and security to truly meet this moment we find ourselves in. So, yeah, I think it's going to get harder. It's going to get hurter. And I have great hopes for us, and for our children, because this culture's unsustainability is so readily obvious to so many of us, because our ability to indulge in, and digest the lie that more, and more, and more, and mine, and mine, and mine will get me everything I need is on full display to be a lie. And I think that underneath all that froth, and that noise, there's this stillness, there's this deeper truth.

There's people like Sam, and adrienne maree brown, and Ruha Benjamin, and Jon Alexander, and Claudia Chwalisz, and Steve Kerr, and Priya Parker, all our guests. And they're all coming from different experiences saying essentially the same things, trying to take us to this same place. A place of completeness, of peace, of belonging, of membership, of citizening. And I'm willing to keep hoping, and fighting for that place, for that journey to that place no matter how hard it is to keep envisioning it. What's keeping me citizening is holding both these feelings. I'm exhausted, and I'm excited. I'm pessimistic, and optimistic. I mourn what we've lost, and celebrate what we can still create, and we can still create a lot of good, as long as there's enough of us working towards creating a culture based in love, one where we try to live together better, then I'm in. For more ways to connect to Dr. Sam's work, head to her website, There you're going to find a free quiz to discover your coping styles as well as ways to access the forthcoming Source Code book through her Return to Love membership program.

As always, check the show notes for links to all this as well as the books referenced in this episode. If you take any of these actions, please brag about it online, and use the #howtocitizen. Also tag our Instagram @howtocitizen. I am always online, and I really do see your messages, so send them. You can also visit our website, which has all of our shows, full transcripts, actions, and more. And I want to thank you one last time for joining us this season. Please stay connected, follow @howtocitizen on Instagram, visit to join our email list, explore all of our episodes, and engage with our massive library of actions that you can take. Together Let's keep citizening. I look forward to seeing you again.

How to Citizen with Baratunde is a production of iHeartRadio podcasts and Rowhome Productions. Our executive producers are me, Baratunde Thurston, and Elizabeth Stewart. Our lead producer is Allie Graham. Our associate producer is Danya AbdelHameid. Alex Lewis is our managing producer, and John Myers is our executive editor. Our mix engineer is Justin Berger, original music by Andrew Eapen with additional music by Blue Dot Sessions. And our audience engagement fellows are Jasmine Lewis, and Gabby Rodriguez. Special thanks to Joelle Smith from iHeartRadio, and Layla Bina.

Rowhome Productions  1:13:47

Rowhome Productions.


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