Walking the Walk Braver Angels Style: Roland Fryer


As each of us continues to work towards the Braver Angels mission to depolarize America, it may be helpful to look up from our tasks and be inspired by other "Exemplars of the Braver Way." I sense a growing number of high-profile figures, who -- despite not being directly connected to Braver Angels -- are saying and doing things that line up well with what we are trying to promote. They "walk the walk." As a torrent of news and commentary fills my inbox each day, the contributions of such individuals shine like flecks of gold. And their example can raise our morale.

One "Exemplar of the Braver Way" is American Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Roland Fryer. His recent interview with Bari Weiss on The Free Press podcast Honestly provides a treasure trove of inspiration for those of us practicing civil engagement with people who hold opinions we find disagreeable. I submit that people like Fryer, who are willing to spend time with the un-civil, show us one way the "Braver" part of being a "Braver Angel" is done.

Roland Fryer had a childhood impacted by parental abandonment, poverty, and family connections to the illegal drug trade. But he was also blessed with the devotion of a wise and formidable grandmother, and his naturally inquisitive mind. His hard work, devotion to following the evidence, and willingness to tell the truth about where it leads him, makes him "one of the most celebrated economists in the world." Unfortunately, his body of work (which combines economic theory, empirical evidence, and randomized experiments to help design more effective government policies on education, inequality, and race) has encountered political hostility and criticism from individuals who conduct themselves in a fashion that is antithetical to the Braver Angels Way. Such treatment endured by Roland Fryer might have turned a lesser man into a bitter and reactionary person . . . or a mute one. Fortunately for all of us, Fryer is brave enough to stay curious about his fellow human beings, even the ones who behave badly.

Professor Fryer's attitude matches the Braver Way because he . . .

* treats people who disagree with him with honesty, dignity and respect
* welcomes opportunities to engage those with whom he disagrees
* seeks to disagree accurately
* and acts on the belief that, in disagreements, both sides share and learn

For those of us who do not have the hour-and-a-bit of idle time to listen to the entire interview, I invite you to listen to the following 5-minute portion of the interview. I admire how Professor Fryer practices one additional virtue: He does not limit himself to only conversations with those who scrupulously adhere to the standards of civility he applies to himself. It is up to each of us to practice this kind of bravery, one conversation at a time. Leading by example, we can depolarize America.

Link bookmarked at the 36:53 minute mark of the recorded interview
Bookmarked link was taken from:
Roland Fryer Tells the Truth on Race and Policing (The Free Press - Youtube)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ9tTottjB8 (1 hour 17 minutes)

 – H. Chapman, Braver Angel and Foot Soldier Philosopher 🕊️

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