Mark Fonseca Rendeiro
In Boston on one of the last mornings of 2017
Chris Lydon is a journalist, radio host, and observer of human behavior. He also has a deep love for jazz, books, and a good bowl of oatmeal. Chris and I became friends some ten years ago because of his legendary radio show and podcast, Radio Open Source. The first podcaster in the history of the medium, a former reporter for the NY Times, Chris cares a great deal about where we’ve been, as citizens of planet earth, and where we are going.
Over the years it has become a tradition that I come spend some days in Boston, talking with him and participating in his daily life. A tradition that has had a massive impact on my life, a pilgrimage that I dare not miss. At Chris’s kitchen table, eating oatmeal, talking about the world… thats where I love to be. So what better way to start a 2018 of restoration and rebirth…. it’s Chris Lydon and myself.. looking back at 2017 and finding clues about 2018.
Not since the cold war has the world needed to take a time-out from political posturing and the information game to get beyond the gate keepers and speak directly with the people referred to as “Russia”. Not unlike 25 years ago, we in the west are once again talking about a people as if they cannot be spoken with and do not have a wide range of opinions and values. Over in Russia, similar is happening with what the media refer to as “the west”.
Enter the power of the podcast:
On today’s program I am coming to you from Moscow, the heart of the nation that so many are talking about these days with angry and confused tones. But this is not about Ukraine or Putin. This is about the city, life, culture, changes, and other developments that remind us of the wealth of things we citizens of planet earth have in common. Today we speak with my friend Victor, an resident and keen observer of this country and its culture, to hear what he sees and has seen.
“People here are a whole lot more rational than they give themselves credit for. They all think they are more moderate than the norm; they don’t realize they are the norm.”
Kurt Bassuener has been working on the issue of Bosnia for over 15 years and in that time has figured out what many people inside and outside the country have not – what is wrong and what can be done about it. That is, in fact, one of the key lessons to take home from this Bosnia 101 conversation; there is hope, there are things that can be done, if specific actors would be willing to change the status quo.
“If the external actors would recognize in their own interests, that with very little change in their approach… they could actually end up with a durable solution.”
At a time where Bosnia seems plagued by corruption and stagnation, Kurt sees things as politically and economically going backwards. Creating a scenario that will do further harm to people inside the country, in the region, and across Europe.
“People saw the social fabric unravel once, and it was bad enough the first time, they don’t want to go there again.”
What is different about Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2013 compared to 1995? Who makes up this complex nation today and what do they think of the traumatic past, the frustrating present and dour future?
“It took a lot of engineering to destroy this country, it was not something that just happened one day… There was a lot of effort to create a sense of inevitability and a sense of fear.”
You can’t windsurf, because that would be elitist. But, if you’re the American president, you can drive around your ranch in a golf cart shooting guns, because people can relate to that. As comedian and writer Lizz Winstead explains it, sometimes there is no debate possible if we don’t agree on fundamental and proven facts. Over the past few months Lizz has been promoting her book “Lizz Free or Die” and travelling around the United States to see what people are doing and what they think about politics or life in general. Having written for several memorable television programs which includes having co-created The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Lizz can tell you thing or two about what is good and what is bad about politics and media in the United States.
By chance, I ran into her at a conference in Sweden earlier this month and spent a few afternoons having excellent discussions, such as this one featured in today’s podcast.