How Can We Stay Human in a F*cked Up World?
Tim Desmond Talks to Roxanne Coady on Just the Right Book
How do we respond to the immensity of suffering that confronts us and overwhelms us without losing our compassion or sanity? This week on Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady, we revisit Roxanne Coady’s conversation with Tim Desmond as they discuss his book, How to Stay Human in a Fucked Up World. Tim Desmond is a psychotherapist, student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and author of Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy. He has dedicated his life to creating peace and compassion in the world through meditation, psychotherapy, conflict resolution and nonviolent social change.
From the episode:
Roxanne Coady: Is the world more or less fucked up than it used to be? You know, you read some books by Steven Pinker and he talks about how there is less violence and poverty in the world. However, it doesn’t seem to be that way. People seem more anxious and overwhelmed. Is it or isn’t it more fucked up?
Tim Desmond: Then you see a study that says that Western civilization will be gone by 2050. How do you put those things together?
Coady: How do you put those things together?
Desmond: For me, what it comes down to … is what would it change for you. What would it change for you if it felt like the world was getting better? Or what would it change for you if Western civilization is gone by 2050? How would that impact how you are going to live your life? There is a scientific principle of underdetermination, which means that every data set can be interpreted in many different ways. There is always multiple theories that will fit a data set. When you have these competing narratives, to try to explain what’s happening—the world is getting better, the world is getting worse—there is not really a way to judge which is more true.
The question is then, who do I want to be? How do I want to live, regardless? Then, it’s getting really clear about that, and whether the world is getting better or worse, this is the person that I want to be.
Tim Desmond is a psychotherapist, student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and author of Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy. He has dedicated his life to creating peace and compassion in the world through meditation, psychotherapy, conflict resolution and nonviolent social change.
Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.