Will Rucker (00:00):
Welcome to compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast I'm your host will Rucker and I am so excited for this season four podcast kickoff. We have a very, very special guest who you are going to be inspired by. You're gonna be informed. You're gonna find yourself feeling hopeful, and I'm so grateful that you have joined us today. Welcome to the podcast, Thomas Lara.
Thomas Legrand (00:25):
Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you.
Will Rucker (00:27):
How'd I do with my accent. Was that
Thomas Legrand (00:29):
Doing much better than me. Okay.
Will Rucker (00:31):
good. Well, I'm, I'm so excited to have you, because you have a book out called the politics of being, and this season that we're, we're focused on politics, which the way I view politics is really just how do we get along as a community? And I think you have some really fascinating ideas, but you take us beyond where we've been and some of these traditional viewpoints, and you're taking us into the realm of possibility and how we can truly thrive as a, a community locally, but also as a global community. So would you share a little bit about your background and this process of becoming you really?
Thomas Legrand (01:10):
Yes, I I've. I think this reflection started with my own spiritual path which started in Mexico 20 years ago when I was in a student exchange. And because of what I experienced from this spiritual path, I have probably come to the conclusion that we just so far away from tapping into a full potential each of us as human beings and also as societies. Right. And I've because of this spiritual past, I think I've taken a pass of service in exploring different aspects working in the field of microfinance, working in the field of environmental conservation management consulting, climate change, sustainable finance. So I've explored even I would say alternative health. So I've explored quite different aspects of, of societies and, and what the change of paradigm that we need looks like in these different sectors and working myself as an environmentalist often with UN agencies, for example, I've come to two conclusions.
Thomas Legrand (02:22):
One is that we seldom have the space, the opportunity to have the real deep conversations that we need about our societies, our communities. And to me, that goes back to recognize that the roots of many of our problems are inside of us in our mindsets, in our hearts. The second aspects are of that is working as an environmentalist. I've come to realize that there's so little we can achieve within these dominant development paradigm, which is all about economic growth. And and I think looking at the depths of the challenges that we are now facing, and that will be increasing in the future in the coming decades, because we have a lot of, lot of disruptions coming on either from technologies or from environmental crisis or a world will be evolving so fast and create new and more and deeper challenges. And I've come to the conclusion that we really need to reorient what we mean by progress and the development of societies, basically from economic growth, economic development, which is good per se, but is only a mean towards an end. And the real end to me is human flourishing or what I call being
Will Rucker (03:55):
You've given us so much in just that introduction. And I wanna make sure that our, our audience knows you are a PhD. And for those that may have not heard it, you've worked with UN agencies.
Thomas Legrand (04:09):
Exactly. Yeah. And I, I, I did my PhD in ecological economics where, and I, I, I stumble on some of the main insights that I've that are at the foundations of this reflection. You know, how institutions, for example, shape or mindsets and whether they can bring the bad aspects, I would say of human being, you know, selfishness, greed, competition, et cetera, or whether they could encourage cooperation and bring out the best in humans. So there is this what's interesting, I think that my own reflection as a social scientist with this PhD, for example, my own work that I've studied to talk about with the UN and my own spiritual journey. So I live also in, in France next to a mindfulness practice center, which is very famous from Zen Masterton and these kind of three fields of experience I've converged, you know, around the same message that is the politics of being that we need real. We need really, to prioritize in our lives, both as individuals, but also as community, as nations being over having,
Will Rucker (05:33):
I should have brought my note cards, cuz you, you are just I mean, I'm just inspired already. Two things that you mentioned, one is changing from this idea of having to being, but also this idea of an economic paradigm to something greater. Could you share a little bit about your viewpoint on what compassion is?
Thomas Legrand (05:57):
Sure. So compassion is to be in a, in embassy connected, you know, with the suffering of others and having the, the will to alleviate this suffering. Right. And I think compassion is part of, for, for true being like in where we get more connected with ourselves. We are also getting more connected with other, there is a sense this sense of separation tend to dissolve and then the, the suffering of others or even of the land, you know, can become experience as all own suffering. And then we want to, to serve, to, to alleviate that suffering. And I think, you know, compassion also comes really from this recognition that is very important that we are not that separate as it seems to be that sooner or later, what happens to the earth, what happens to others will affect me. Now I'm not, we are not living in a bubble separate from all of that.
Will Rucker (07:08):
So compassion dissolves this illusion of separation, including the illusion that we're separate from the planet. That is our
Thomas Legrand (07:17):
Will Rucker (07:19):
Wow, exactly. Now, why did you name your book, the politics of being, why wasn't it something, you know, like the community of being, or, you know, why did you choose politics?
Thomas Legrand (07:30):
Well, because my I, I work, you know, with your agency and mainly in the field of public policies, you know, what kind of systems we can create that can improve our lives. Right. So I wanted to show that we can create, and I give a lot of examples in the book of concrete, public policies or concrete systems in many sectors, education else, justice governance, economy family organizations. So I wanted to show, you know, what does it look like? How a more advanced civilization is organized, but not something, you know, in the far future I'm using only, almost exclusively concrete, real examples that are already happening. So if we can, you know, have the vision that these different pieces can be brought together into a new vision for societies into a new story also then we can really in relatively short time completely transform our societies for something much greater
Will Rucker (08:52):
Year from France. Yes. What would you say most surprised you between the political climate in your home country? Mm-Hmm and what you've seen here in the us?
Thomas Legrand (09:04):
Well, there are some commonalities of course, but I think the, the problems in the us are deeper and more and more visible. Right. And I talk a lot in this book. I talk a lot about the us indeed. And I say in the introduction, I say I talk a lot about it because there is a lot of information studies reflections that are very interesting to build upon, but also because to me, the us is probably the countries that has been further away in this general mindset, or we can call it the general story that moves society. The story of separation, you know, where the values such as individualism, materialism, reductionism, et cetera, are very stronger. And I've led this country to, to a point where things start to be very difficult and is requiring some deep change now really deep conversation to how we can evolve, you know, or world views or mindsets.
Thomas Legrand (10:18):
Yeah, even I, I would say even the, the philosophical, you know, these value, they are really philosophical foundations of our society. And I think, you know, the, the change that we need is, is very deep. Some might say, you know, it's it's impossible, but I'm an, and, and they, they say I'm too optimistic. And I, I just think that we won't be able to deal effectively with the challenges that we face if we don't make this kind of cultural evolution and they are more and more even in the UN people recognizing that.
Will Rucker (10:56):
Yeah. So for most Americans, individual as individualism is a huge part of who we are. We've become an economic superpower in a relatively short time as a nation. And you're proposing that we move beyond economics. So in a sense, what you're proposing is a complete shift in the identity of who we are as a nation. What would you say to someone that hears that and perhaps has some apprehension or some fear around what that means?
Thomas Legrand (11:30):
Well, I would, I mean, it's true that the us has become quickly a super power, but just let's have a look in terms of happiness and suffering. And you, you will have to recognize that, you know, the studies are very clear. It's not about so much about money or power. It's about relationship with oneself, with one another and how we can mental health, you know, so I think we need a we need a recapitulation of the story, you know, of the country. What has been the story? Why did we, why or identity as thought like that? What, how is it showing up now? What, what, what is the problems that are involved with that? And, you know, from a, I think it's like, you know, I often compare nations and individuals, right? So one may have an identity, but this identity is creating him. A lot of problem. One will not become someone else because he is evolving. Right. But it needs to do this work that find the right connection so that what it may become feels still, you know true, authentic to him. Right.
Will Rucker (12:59):
I love that the way that you frame that and what I'm visualizing is just natural development, where you mature when you were six years old, there were things that you did because you were six mm-hmm , but then when you're 60, you don't do those things in the same way.
Thomas Legrand (13:15):
Exactly. Myself, my life has changed so much also because of my own personal journey. And I still feel like all that I've done is stay being part of me, but I'm, my life is just so different and I have completely different interest, et cetera, than when I was a teenager, for example, or,
Will Rucker (13:35):
Yeah. So you're, you're not losing anything with this politics of being mm-hmm , you're adding on and expanding. Is that what I'm hearing?
Thomas Legrand (13:43):
Will Rucker (13:45):
One of the things you mentioned in perhaps a presentation, it may be in the book as well, but you, you call us out as a nation. You say America's one of the only developed countries that doesn't offer paid parental leave as a guarantee. Now I can tell you, we care about our families. We care about the wellbeing of our children. And as a nation, this is something that is a glaring issue, because how do we adequately take care of our kids if we're not present? What do you think is the pathway to shifting the narrative in the nation where we actually adopt that as a policy?
Thomas Legrand (14:23):
Well, I think we need, you know, as I said is deeper conversation. We need to recognize how we feel inside. We need, we need to recognize mental health issues. You know, I've been increasing that already very strong in the us and have been increased dealing with COVID and so we need to look at at all these these data and just recognize what are the cause now that's my whole methodology. You know, every fact has a cause and psychologists are very clear. The major factor of, you know, determining ones on capacity to flourish is a lot what we receive as a child, you know, in the first five years, I might say, and parental leave in Sweden, they have, they offer 18 months for, for parents to share among the two parents with 80% of their wage to be there in the, in the first years, months, and years of the, of their children. That makes a huge difference for the, for the child. And what, what I'm saying is that it's not only the basis of individual flourishing, it's also the basis of their capacity to contribute positively to society. So that's a good investment for society to actually invest in that. Otherwise you have a lot of, you have a you know, people doesn't feel secure. They have not received a lot of the need and that manifests in societies sometimes through crimes or other negative aspects.
Will Rucker (16:08):
So for the small business owner that says, I can't afford that if some of my staff is gone for 18 months, how do I run my business? Mm-Hmm what do you say to them?
Thomas Legrand (16:18):
Well, they should not be the one paying, I mean, this should be in these countries. This is the whole society taxis are fueled to finance that. So it's not at the moment that someone of your employees living is that you're paying a small amount each month, so that when that happens your employees will be able to benefit and the whole society will benefit it.
Will Rucker (16:45):
Again, that's a, a major shift from our individualism. Mm-Hmm, into a more collective paradigm mm-hmm , which I personally love. I think that's so important. And I think evolutionarily, we have proven that working together is how we can survive, let alone thrive. Mm-Hmm and also there's value in that independent spirit, that entrepreneurial spirit in those that want to create and go for something different, you know, that unique I'm saying individualism, but I, I almost mean more so of a uniqueness mm-hmm . And so there, I think there's value in both mm-hmm from this paradigm shift, how do you, I, I guess, reconcile the two of wanting to be unique, wanting to contribute something individual mm-hmm , but still keeping in mind the importance of the collective understanding and the collective wellbeing.
Thomas Legrand (17:47):
Exactly. Well, you know, I propose to make being the main goal of a society so that the societies can provide the right conditions for people to be, and to express themselves. Right. And that could be definitely true entrepreneurship. Right. But also for someone to be able to really express who, who he's, if he is holding some kind of traumas, because, you know, he has his or parents were not prison when he was a child or he is because of structural poverty of violence. He will not be able to express himself even as an, as an entrepreneur. So it's definitely I feel completely reconciled but it's a different understanding of who we are. We need to recognize more and more people and science and researchers recognize that we are fundamentally relational beings. So, you know, even our identity is being formed through relationships first with our mother, with our parents, with our community and even happiness study tellers, this is the number one factor to be happy, cultivate good relationship. So
Will Rucker (19:07):
I just wanna kind of summarize what I'm hearing and please correct me if I'm MIS misinterpreting anything. But what I'm hearing you say is that when we have a established foundation where basic needs, the things that all of us need are met, it allows us to be more of who we are as individuals.
Thomas Legrand (19:27):
Exactly, exactly. Ingle art, which is the most important he was managing the global values of survey. And he says, basically we have experienced a big shift in the last decades. There is some risks, we are going backward, but that's what we have experienced in the last decades is to moving from survival towards self-expression. And when our basic needs have been met, then we are not in that survival mode, but we can start to, to flourish and express really who we are. So that's, I think what society should strive for.
Will Rucker (20:05):
I want you to say that one more time, moving from survival to
Thomas Legrand (20:10):
Will Rucker (20:11):
Self-Expression that's beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's, for me, it's, it's freeing that's that to me is freedom to me. That is exactly what I want exactly, you know, worrying about survival. It's different when there's not enough mm-hmm , but I think we can see based on the amount of food waste, we have the hoarding of resources we see with you talk about the enormous wealth gap and inequity in that space. I, I think we have enough for everybody to survive, but what we haven't done is transition into this being mm-hmm . And I, I agree with you that it starts with our policies. So what are some of the policies that you would say as a starting point, we should adopt in order to help us move into this state of being?
Thomas Legrand (21:00):
So we have already talked about family education of course, is really, is really key. You know, that's where people learn, you know, the, how they function in life. Two days ago, went to see compassionate school in in Las Vegas. It was wonderful to see. And a lot of the ideas that I developed in this book were, were put to work.
Will Rucker (21:25):
So shout out to battle born academy. You're doing a great job.
Thomas Legrand (21:28):
Yeah. Thank you. So social, social, and emotional learning, and, you know, even scientists tend to recognize that success is not so much about IQ is about emotional intelligence. So that's what we should develop also in in schools. You know, we were sitting in a circles with kids and if they were going through different steps about, you know, how they feel, what they have experience, the big discoveries they are making or what they have enjoyed. And, you know, they, they are really meLearning at the same time. We're just discussing with other people. That's what we are trying to bring to adults. And now they always see them practicing 5, 7, 9 years old. So that's, that's beautiful.
Will Rucker (22:18):
Wow. So we've dealt with family leave, making sure that parents can actually be present in the lives of their newborns. Mm-Hmm we've talked about education, making sure we're investing in our kids. It's sounding to me like you, you think kids are important.
Thomas Legrand (22:34):
Definitely. I mean that's I mean this, if we talk about cultural change, cultural evolution, that's, it's a matter of a generation, right? So we need all of us need to evolve, but goes also it's stronger when it's just a new generation that comes with with new values, if we are able also to to be able to, to embrace that now, because that can create also conflict sometimes. But definitely our children are very important because a lot of, of these things, indeed it's to me being is is a natural, healthy aspiration that, that we can find in everyone's heart and especially in so it's not adults are long story and they can Al already be distorted. They can be, they can have traumas, et cetera, that kind of disconnect them for their natural aspiration. But I'm, I'm, I'm sure that kids naturally get it. It's really it's just part of our nature. It's it's part of even we could say now the nature of every living being to become really who, who he is, who she
Will Rucker (23:57):
Is. Well, I think that's a great place for us to pause. We will be back with more from this amazing human and sharing on the politics of being in our next episode. But until then, I want to remind you, you are not just a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop and what you do matters. So live compassionately.