I know I speak for many when I congratulate Krista Tippett on the National Humanities Medal presented to her by President Obama at the White House on Monday. It’s a huge honor, hard-earned and well-deserved. And, as Krista is the first to say, it’s one shared by executive editor Trent Gilliss and the entire staff of On Being.
When a destination like this is reached, we often forget that the journey to it was full of risks. It’s a sign of hope for all of us that a program like On Being — which explores deep, subtle, and elusive questions of what it means to be human — can be honored this way in a culture mired in noise, frenzy, consumerism, disinformation, divisiveness, and various forms of violence. Think of it! In the midst of all that, On Being courageously hosts honest and engaging on-air and online conversations that evoke what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” — always reaching out for diversity, never blinking the hard realities around and within us, helping us live more fully into the human possibility.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes. To Krista and all who help bring On Being to us, thank you for helping us explore the mysteries of the beginning and end of life, and the savage and beautiful country that lies in between. Thank you for encouraging our love affair with life!
“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”
—Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses