The Pause, On Being

What are the values and what are the things that we hold dear? ... That's at the heart of public interest technologies: helping society navigate its way back to itself.
– Latanya Sweeney

Dear Friends,

The suffering in our world is so immense, and so volatile.

I’m wanting to honor the reality that none of my words are big enough for the gravity and complexity of what I’m endeavoring to stand before.

Nor can any words convey the depth of my heartbreak.

Perhaps you feel this way, too.

I often speak and write about my commitment to a muscular hope, and this remains a deep truth for and about me. Yet, and especially right now, I use that phrase “deep truth” in its sense offered to me by the physicist Frank Wilczek — that the definition of a deep truth is that its opposite is also true.

And so: the despair I’m feeling now makes hope — which is nothing less and nothing more than an insistent orientation of my life towards the world I want to live in — more necessary and more urgent. But it does not diminish the despair. It is in a time like this that another word I use often — accompaniment — rises up as most necessary and urgent. In days and weeks like this, we walk alongside each other and we carry the load of our pain and our fear together. There might be days when the muscle of my hope is stronger, and I will feel that and exercise it for you. There will be days when I need you to do the same for me.

I even went looking for poems that might help, and couldn’t find many that don’t end on a too facile promise of meaning and closure. It won’t surprise you that I ended up, after a long search, back with my old friend Rilke, especially these lines from the poem “Onto a Vast Plain”:

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.

Below you’ll find a link to download Joanna Macy reading the whole poem, and you can carry it around in your ears with me in the days to come.

Somehow, too, life continues to unfold in all its dimensions all around. The show this week is with the wonderful technologist Latanya Sweeney, whom you may never have heard of, but who has probably touched your life online in a humanizing, hidden, positive way (imagine that). And of course our lives with technology touch and complicate everything we see and seek to metabolize in these days. This conversation will leave you feeling a little less alone with despair you may harbor about what is unfolding on the digital canvases where we conduct so much of life now — and it will leave you with a more reasonable hope in our agency to shape the future of that.

My love to you, and my gratitude, as always,


Krista Tippett



On Being logo

On Being with Krista Tippett
Latanya Sweeney
Shaping Technology to Human Purpose

The public interest technologist and trailblazer on rejecting the harms of digital technologies — while insisting on their possibilities for good.

Listen on:
Apple | Spotify | YouTube |

P.S. We are also releasing the unedited version of this interview.


Be Nourished

Text appears on plain frame: Rainer Maria Rilke, Onto a Vast Plain. A triangle overlay indicates this image is hyperlinked to a YouTube video of the read poem.

"Onto a Vast Plain"
by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated and read by Joanna Macy

A poem to return to again and again.


Something New...

Woman stands on stage facing audience in the midst of a speech. Her face is projected on two large screens behind her to the left and right, alongside the logo

3 Practices for Wisdom and Wholeness

Krista's new TED Talk on standing before the pain and promise of this world.



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The On Being Project
1619 Hennepin Ave,  Minneapolis, MN 55403,  United States

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