lyndsey stonebridge: evil is the inability to hear another voice

the other day i was hanging out with chelsea barabas, talking about futurism and writing (as we do). she tipped me off to a recent episode of on being that i hadn’t yet heard. i’m listening through it now and it’s epic. the interview is with lyndsey stonebridge and it’s called Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now.

this line pretty early on stuck out to me hardcore:

…she says, if you can’t have that inner dialogue, then you can’t speak and act with others either because it’s part of — if you’re already divided in yourself because you’re having this conversation with yourself, and that’s the passion of your being, people who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what she called “the banality of evil” was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.

i’m still very much digesting it, but i think i get the core of it. and i so appreciate the surfacing of the connection to evil. it makes so much sense in light of today’s battles between the (political) right and left. people are just standing on their side of the canyon yelling and throwing molotov cocktails (sometimes ideologically, sometimes physicall) at each other.

and, to be honest, this is dangerous on each side. of course, it’s more immediately dangerous on the side that has access to the nuclear codes, but still. when the group in power switches, the situation is still fundamentally the same. although the public good might (and i do mean might) be better served when the left is in power, the aggression and silence fomented by their holding of power keeps the pendulum swinging. and we will continue swinging back and forth as long as we continue on with our inability to have a dialogue with ourselves and with others.

in a way, it’s like the idea of dialectical interchange of paulo freire… but starting with yourself. and only when one can have that experience with oneself are you actually ready to have it with others.

sidenote: this seems eerily connected to the that thing people say about not being able to love others if you can’t love yourself…

ps - i definitely need to get to know (via books) this hannah arendt person. it seems like her book, the origins of totalitarianism, is a good start… anybody got it? maybe i’ll just library it cause the jp neighborhood branch of the bpl just reopened and it’s beautiful… but i like writing in my non-fiction books… maybe i’ll grab it from j.p. papercuts and use my new vip 10% discount.

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