The world wants you to play it safe. Here's why you shouldn't.
Don't let others define your own path through life, says comedian and raconteur Nick Offerman.
Nick Offerman is an actor, writer and woodworker, best known as the character of Ron Swanson on NBC's hit comedy series Parks and Recreation. His long list of film credits also includes The Kings of Summer, 21 Jump Street, Smashed, and Sin City.
Nick Offerman: Our society has become so clickbait-y and superficial. It’s very seldom in interview situations that you’re asked anything of substance – the thing I get asked the most often is, “So tell us about this movie. Why should we go see it?” To which I always want to answer: Don’t go see it, go fuck yourself. I’m not like – that’s not my job to tell you why you should go see this movie! “Because you want to.” It just goes to show how lazy most media outlets are.
And so, ignore all of the channels. Ignore all channels of popular culture and focus on what you like and what you and your friends and/or family like. Because the stuff that I grew up that was like my weird bits that I did with my cousin and my sisters and brother, the stuff that I thought was weird of that stood out to me, I focused on that and through my theater training and then through my career it was always the counter culture weirdness that spoke to me. There’s a very specific group of us and we find each other and say oh, now we’re 47. Let’s make a TV show together.
And so by focusing, if you just consume what’s being fed to you then you never find out if there’s a really stinky cheese that might be your favorite thing to eat.
One thing that really attracted me to this script, I had worked on the previous film The Hero with Brett and his cowriter Mark Bash. But he makes these really thoughtful movies about humanity. And I loved when I read the script and there’s this element of the father-daughter relationship where they kind of take turns at who’s being the parent and who’s being the kid. And I thought that was really attractive and fun to play and realistic.
It’s a strange thing to see a kid want to go away and become a doctor and not only that but like we see her studying hard. She’s an erudite student. She’s very serious about where she’s going and yet she has this musical talent that she doesn’t take as seriously.
And to see the dad sort of saying, “Come on, I really want you to think about throwing away all your responsible dreams and run away and join the circus with me, your dad!”
In my own life I grew up in a very conservative small town in Illinois in a very conservative family. Every – it’s an amazing family of heroes. There’s about 30 of us now in this extended family and I’m the only one that doesn’t live within an eight mile radius. And every single family member is either farmer, school teacher, librarian, paramedic, nurse—and we have one craft brewer, my brother. He’s the king of the family.
But I’m the only one, and I always had this idea that I wanted to entertain people but I didn’t have the culture coming in to – I never learned of the channels by which I might achieve that.
And so when I was a junior in high school—and you had to begin to declare what do you want to do, where do you want to go to college if so. And it was pretty wild that I said, “I think I want to become an actor.” And the whole county was like “No, I don’t believe you can do that from here.” And I said “Well, but those other people must have come from somewhere.”
And really like all the channels, like the guidance counselor at school had a list of the 36 things you could study. And not only was actor not on there, there were no arts on there! The only one was musician. One guy from my town had gone to music school and he became a band director at a college. And so that was their precedent, and they said, “What do you want to do – go be a band director at a college?”
I was like no, I want to like make people laugh, or I want to be in movies and stuff. And so it was pretty crazy but here’s where some serendipity happened. I was with my girlfriend who was auditioning for a dance department at the University of Illinois. I met some theater students and I said, “What the hell are you talking about? You’re ‘theater students’?” And they said, “We study theater.” And I said, “Well then what?” They said, “You go to Chicago and you get paid to be in plays.”
And I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. This is what I’m talking about!” I went home and I was like “Mom? Dad? I’m going to go do plays, and then I go to Chicago and they pay me to do plays! It’s a thing, people do it.”
And so that’s what I did, and my mom and dad were very supportive. I was somebody who had crazy ideas but I worked really hard. And they said, “You have some real cockamamie schemes but you always do your best. And so we’ll get behind you and support you in this.”
And it took several years—from age 18 to 26. Those are formative years. That’s a tough, scary time for your parents to say, “Okay, we’re going to trust you.”
But eventually when they first came to see me in a Shakespeare play in a very small part at a big theater in Chicago that was a big moment for me where I was like “Well, see, this is something! Three lines. There are people in this show with no lines. So just watch me.” And, you know, it’s something that – it’s a very personal thing, and you have to trust your gut.
The world is always going to want you to do other things that make them feel safe. Parents especially often have their own desires. And so to parents and children alike I would say, trust your gut.
Again if you’ve lived one of these lives where you are in a household where there’s not, people aren’t using tools or people aren’t that practical. There’s a lot of urban and suburban households where people say yeah god, when I get a flat tire I have to buy a new car because I don’t know what to do. Or if a light bulb goes out I have to throw the lamp away because I couldn’t tell you how that thing works. I don’t think I have the right tools.” To those households (of which there are many) I would say find a place to try making stuff. And there’s so many things you can do and another great thing about the information age or the proliferation of technology is that you can literally learn to do anything now on YouTube. You can become a blacksmith just from YouTube.
You’re going to learn a lot faster if you find a blacksmith to show you.
That’s true of anything, if you have a teacher there. But just try stuff. I love influencing the kids in my life, and I just do my best to let them try stuff. And some of them like to paint, some of them like to help in the kitchen, some of them – this one kid likes to just punch trees. He’s troubled, and we’re going to try him out in sports but we’ll see. He might make a great lumberjack.
Nick Offerman doesn't believe in having others define your path for you. Not everyone's path has to be planned out in advance. Because if you look hard enough (and if you work hard enough), you'll find others who can show you the way. Nick's latest book is Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop and you can pre-order his next book The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History, too.
Once a week.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
The rites we give to the dead help us understand what it takes to go on living.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March, the death toll quickly went up with few chances for families and communities to perform traditional rites for their loved ones.
Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
- One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" predicts the future of human societies.
- Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" says that intelligent life on Earth will eventually form a "singleton".
- The "singleton" could be a single government or an artificial intelligence that runs everything.
- Whether the singleton will be positive or negative depends on numerous factors and is not certain.
Want to Retain American Jobs? Stop Blaming Globalization<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="oxK8j1xN" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="2cf425d7b91ed2a6fc4fe19d065f3408"> <div id="botr_oxK8j1xN_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/oxK8j1xN-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/oxK8j1xN-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/oxK8j1xN-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
How to deal with "epistemic exhaustion."