What do you believe?

Question: Do you have a personal philosophy?

Calvin Trillin: My personal philosophy would be not to have a personal philosophy. No. I think the short answer is no, or at least I never thought about it. And I guess if you haven’t thought about it, you don’t have one.

Question: Do religion and faith inform your worldview?

Calvin Trillin: No not really. I’m being sort of, you know, culture . . . religious culture and things, but not . . . not whether I’m straight with God.

Question: What is the measure of a good life?

Calvin Trillin: Well that’s pretty close to personal philosophy isn’t it? Well my father had very good advice about that. It’s the only advice I can ever remember his giving me. He was not a heart-to-heart sort of father. He was a good father, but not a “Come in my study and we’re gonna have a heart-to-heart.” I actually never met a father like that, so maybe they . . . only in the movies. But my father used to say, “You might as well be a mensch.” A mensch is a German word and also Yiddish word. In German it means “human being”, and in Yiddish it means “upright person” in big things and small things.

So he not only . . . A mensch would not only come to the aid of a friend even if at his peril; but also if he borrowed your apartment would leave it slightly nicer than he found it. And I was always impressed about the way my father put it. My father grew up in St. John, Missouri and spoke very much like Harry Truman even though he was born in the Ukraine and he came as an infant. And he used phrases like, “I haven’t had so much fun since the hogs ate little sister” and stuff like that. But he said . . . He always said, “You might as well be a mensch.” I mean it was never, you know, “Our family is . . . Our honor depends on it” or anything like that. It was . . . He sort of considered the alternatives, and at the end decided you might as well be a mensch. It’s a sort of a Midwestern way to phrase it.

 September 5, 2007

Trillin believes in not having a personal philosophy.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less