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How To Human: Getting Back to Basics in a Polarized World with Carlos Whittaker

As The Busted Halo Show continues to examine polarization in our world, Father Dave welcomes back friend of the show Carlos Whittaker to discuss his new book, “How to Human: Three Ways to Share Life Beyond What Distracts, Divides, and Disconnects Us.

Carlos says, “I feel like since last we did speak in 2020, we have obviously, as the human race gone through collective trauma together. And I feel like the division is wider, I feel like the rhetoric is more just nasty. There’s more rage, and I just started thinking, gosh, it doesn’t have to be this way.” 

“Hopefully, what the book is going to do is help people get back to realizing that, hey, guess what, you can vehemently disagree with somebody. You can be 100% that they believe everything wrong, and you can actually still walk with them and have relationship with them, and just be in community together. We’ve just forgotten that we can do that,” he explains.

RELATED: How I’m Overcoming Judginess in a Divided World

Carlos breaks the book into three categories of “Be, See, and Free,” and he elaborates on what that means. “Be human, be who God created you to be. Before you can see somebody else, you’ve got to be who God created you to be,” he says. He explains that we often hide parts of ourselves that we’re ashamed of and says, “We take those pieces of our shame, and we shove them away, and we were not fully who we were supposed to be. So helping people get back to that space of being truly human which a lot of times, especially in 2023, means we’ve got to slow down our pace.

Father Dave recalls a Benedictine monastery he has visited in Minnesota, where they also practice a slower pace when praying the psalms.  He says, “At the end of each line, like a line of poetry like the psalms are written, they take a pause before the next line. Even if the sentence is kind of continued, they pause way longer than anyone outside that monastery would think it’s normal. So you can always tell when there’s a visitor or a guest, because you hear one voice go onto the next line.”

LISTEN: Fostering ‘Unity in Diversity’ To Heal Divisions in a Polarized Church

The second theme in the book is “see,” and Carlos discusses the divisions we may encounter daily. “The reason why people are so loud is because they want to be seen. You look at every single thing that drives you crazy about the Facebook posts that your aunt is posting; she wants to be seen,” he explains. “You don’t even have to get to a space where you agree on the set issue she’s posting about, but if you just see her, that is going to lay the groundwork for the relationship and the healing that needs to happen.” He also notes the importance of saying the name of those we encounter daily, such as a TSA employee or coffee barista. 

The book’s last theme is the concept of “free,” which requires “putting action behind your conviction.” Carlos says, “When it comes to putting your money where your mouth is, it’s more important that followers of Jesus actually do the things we say that we believe. So that’s where the freedom piece is going to come to pass. And honestly, that’s a lot harder to do than it is to say.”

He adds, “If we can start truly walking with people that don’t look like us, talk like us, vote like us, live like us, love like us, all the things like us – if we can start walking with them, curiosity is going to lead to empathy. Which is not going to lead to you changing your mind and turning your back on your values. But it’s going to lead to you healing some relationships and actually being able to walk with people that are nothing like you. And I just think that is the heartbeat of what I’m trying to get people to be able to do.”