Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

“From Ralph Nader to the Discovery Institute”


Whilst I was in Seattle this summer, I was interviewed by Anika Smith of the Discovery Institute about my sometimes winding path in public advocacy. I describe how John Kennedy's "power of idealism" stimulated my interest in public policy, how my mentor Ralph Nader profoundly influenced my life by proving the power of "a single man" to make a difference, and how the "power of justice and the call to human equality" made so powerfully by Martin Luther King seared into my consciousness.

This may be the most revealing interview I have ever given about my personal history and the motives that drive my advocacy. I discuss the "consistent themes" in my work, e.g. integrity in advocacy, how my work with Nader was more political and what I am doing now more cultural, and how the overarching theme for me is "the importance of being human." This wasn't planned, but looking back "even while practicing law, this is much of what I am about."

I discuss how each of us "is somebody," by which I mean we are something in our souls, e.g. the "essence of Wesley" is "an advocate," my wife Debra is a journalist even when she is not working, and my mother is, essentially, a mother. That is what she was born to be.

I discuss the painful decision to quit practicing law, my "very minor successful" days of acting in Hollywood, the circumstances of how I became "a lawyer on TV" for a time in LA, and how some of the best things that come to us result from doing things for which we are not paid. I describe the circumstances of the writing of my first book, which led to my meeting "my hero" Ralph Nader," for which he wrote the introduction. I opine about how today's "ideological Leftists" in my view, have lost the idealism that once marked the movement and has moved from a we-we, us-us mentality into an I-I, me-me view of life. I discuss how the Discovery Institute has been so supportive of my views and work, and how it shows idealism, integrity, commitment, and the willingness to be disliked in pursuing what its members think is right. And much more. If you have twenty minutes--and if you care--listen in.


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