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Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh was a columnist for On Being in 2016. She is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The New York TimesThe Guardian, and many other publications. Her 2018 book Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a frequent media commentator and a former Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives in Kansas. Read more about her work at


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The challenges we fret over as adults are often simple in the eyes of our children. Sarah Smarsh offers an antidote to the vitriol of our politics — through viral videos that illustrate the wisdom of children.
It is a privilege to feel that this is a time of unusual turmoil. Sarah Smarsh points at our responsibility in this revelatory moment: not just to look at the injustice we live amidst, but to act on what we see.
In the age of “hashtag activism,” standing in place together remains a powerful symbol of collective strength. Sarah Smarsh reflects on the gravity of steadfast presence in bringing about change.
In baseball as in life, skirmishes are healthier when they're not prolonged. Looking to the animal kingdom for wisdom, Sarah Smarsh reflects on the danger of rumination without release and the healing power of bodies in motion.