What is your counsel?
Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 on NPR, is a journalist and the author of the novels Hey Day, Turn of the Century, The Real Thing, and his latest non-fiction book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History. He has written and produced prime-time network television programs and pilots for NBC and ABC, and co-authored Loose Lips, an off-Broadway theatrical revue that had long runs in New York and Los Angeles. He is a regular columnist for New York Magazine, and contributes frequently to Vanity Fair. He is also a founder of Very Short List.
Andersen began his career in journalism at NBC's Today program and at Time, where he was an award-winning writer on politics and criminal justice and for eight years the magazine's architecture and design critic. Returning to Time in 1993 as editor-at-large, he wrote a weekly column on culture. And from 1996 through 1999 he was a staff writer and columnist for The New Yorker. He was a co-founder of Inside.com, editorial director of Colors magazine, and editor-in-chief of both New York and Spy magazines, the latter of which he also co-founded.
From 2004 through 2008 he wrote a column called "The Imperial City" for New York (one of which is included in The Best American Magazine Writing 2008). In 2008 Forbes. com named him one of The 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media. Anderson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, and is a member of the boards of trustees of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Pratt Institute, and is currently Visionary in Residence at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He lives with his family in New York City.
Kurt Andersen: Collectively, in the larger sense, I think that it is important to figure out a kind of a version of healthcare delivery that is more like the rest of the world and less like the way we [i.e. the US] do it. I think that’s an important collective thing to do. I would say maybe that’s the single most important thing we can do collectively.
Individually, again, I think people need to see in their daily lives to try to act correctly, in the obvious ways. That could mean turning off your lights, using the little other fluorescent bulbs, driving cars that get better mileage. And I don’t disparage any of those because I try to do all those, and those are good. In acts with individuals not being niggardly, and not dissembling and being honest.
It’s like a parental exhortation, but I think once you get into the habit of honesty and kindness on those individual levels, with your co-workers, and your children, and your spouse and everybody else, I think not only do those billions of acts add up into a better society, culture, or world, but they also train one for that time that may come when you’re asked to do the right thing in a big, character-defining way. You’re more inclined to do it if along the way you’ve done the right thing in all these small, boring, banal _________.
Recorded On: July 5, 2007
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