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Dysfunctional to Generative

By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.



Krista Tippett, a long-time host of public radio’s “On Being” show, spoke recently in an interview about ‘the dysfunctional landscape of our times.’ David Marchese reports on his interview with her in the New York Times Magazine, July 10, 2022. I was transfixed by the ideas and language they used to help us with the difficult situation we find ourselves living in.


She describes drawing out voices that deserve to be heard and ‘shedding light on generative possibilities and robust goodness.” As we look at the dysfunctional landscape of our time, she talks about her guests who have pointed out the ‘generative landscape of our time.’ She talks about the people in different communities and fields of endeavor who are creating new possibilities and realities.


We can see it in people like Jane Goodall or John Lewis who refuse to accept that this is the way the world must be. Tippett calls this ‘muscular hope.’ You might think about local people who are creating community gardens or teaching gardening to children There are those working to create a safer world like Everytown or, Stopping Violence in KC: Aim4Peace Violence Prevention Program. Al Brooks, with others, started and once lead the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime: Promoting Healing and Justice. This group is the trusted communication between the community and the criminal justice system. I have met Al Brooks and heard him speak. Now in his nineties, he is definitely a person who has muscular hope and sees generative possibilities.


I have been inspired by many local people working for the betterment of the environment, helping the homeless, crocheting clothing for babies to the elderly, working in food pantries, and distributing food to those who need it. There are so many ways to create new realities and possibilities individually or collectively.


Another way of helping to make change is what Tippett calls moving below the radar to ‘start stitching together relationships and quiet conversations at a very human level. We’re going to work on conversations that will not be publicized. That feels to me like a power move in this world.’ I think about the daily interactions as small as talking to the mail person, the cashier at the grocery store, or your neighbor who often doesn’t speak to anyone. This may not sound revolutionary, but this is what helps us, and others feel better, be connected, and, in a small way, begin to make sense of the bigger realities that confound or worry us.


Everyone has a sphere of influence, beginning with our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Just remember that emotions are contagious and if you are tending to your own inner garden, cultivating your joy and love, then that is what you are sending to the world around you. It is a moment-to-moment job, taking intention, practice, and persistence. I fail many times a day. I try to remember to breathe, take a moment, and re-set my inner self in a better direction. This doesn’t mean denying one’s emotions but recognizing them, accepting them, and moving through them to a clearer space. The civilizational is happening at the personal level.


The natural world models the true nature of life. It is ecosystem-based and is not hierarchical. The Green Planet, a five-part series narrated by David Attenborough, tells us the amazing story of these earthly residents. The trees communicate to each other and let other trees know about toxicity, or something attacking. It seems to be about mutuality and reciprocity. I am excited to see more of the series. I think I want to be more like a tree!


Tippett talks about her calling to this job. This is something I speak to nearly everyone about. Whether it is a paid job or something you do for fun, find what energizes you, what gives you joy. It can be how you show up through the day or how you treat people. I encourage you to think about your way of being in the world, your calling. If we follow this, we will be happier, better able to fight anxiety and depression, be more productive, and find ways to reframe the negative into generative possibilities.


She reminds us to not only ask the question but to live the question. She urges us to ‘hold the question itself, dwell with the question respectfully and love the question. Live your way into the answer.’


As we grapple with our own inner selves and this complex world, our mental health, as well as our physical and spiritual health, will be better if we think about our power to change each moment. Find your way into more joyous possibilities, finding good questions, living into your answers.


Evolving Magazine

Kansas City

 Jude LaClaire, PhD, LCPC is a counselor and educator. She is the author of “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” which teaches creative, effective problem-solving.  For counseling appointments (confidential video or in-person sessions), seminars, speaking engagements or information on Life Weaving, Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Relationship Therapy call  816-509-9277 or


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