Defining the Hero: Reflections on Responsibility, Community, and Compassion with Author Chris McDougall
Play • 57 min

This week, we host Chris McDougall, runner, reporter, and author of Born to Run, on the show to discuss his wide-ranging life experience. His concept of the hero is that they are responsible for others, that we humans are designed to be cooperative, that we are at our best when we are thoughtful and caring. In it all, it is important that we seek out fun. From learning from Mexico’s Rarámuri ultrarunners, to training a mistreated donkey to join him in competing in the 29-mile Pack Burro race in the Rockies, Chris’ life has been anything but average. Now living on Oahu, Hawaii, the 61 year-old continues to push himself to uncover stories, pick up new hobbies, and reflect on how his past informs his present day outlook on health, wellness, and keys to longevity.

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Key Moments
“I think what bothers me the most–and this applies in every aspect of our lives–is this sad human arrogance that we can outthink two million years of evolution. Natural selection has created this unbelievably complex self-healing device.”

“I spent a lot of time on the Greek island of Crete looking at World War II resistance fighters. Crete was one place that had a sensational story about average citizens who rose up to resist the German occupation. Again, these are not trained soldiers, these are just citizens who overnight, literally from one week to the next, went from being citizens into being military operatives against the most formidable army on the planet. And so my question was well, how do you do that physically? How do you turn yourself into a super soldier? And one of the things I looked at was diet.”

“You know one thing when you look at the human animal, there are two things that we are really good at. We are extraordinarily adaptive–we're very creative and ingenious. But secondly, we're extraordinarily cooperative. What is the internet all about? It's about trading stuff, trading images, trading thoughts, trading ideas. We are probably the most cooperative animal on the planet and we tend to forget that sometimes because, particularly in America and particularly in this era in America, we've come across this very sad notion. You know you gotta be tough. You know you gotta close the borders, you gotta be strong, you gotta crush this guy, you gotta win, win, win. That's not who human animals are. You know human animals throughout history have coexisted and have shared and cooperated. And if you look at most ancestral cultures, they were not about accumulation and acquisition and conquering. They were about coexistence, cooperation and learning from each other.“

Connect with Chris
Born to Run

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