WBEZ | Ask Me Why http://www.wbez.org/series/ask-me-why Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ask Me Why: Should we open U.S. borders? http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why-should-we-open-us-borders-87092 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-26/immigration photo 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>America’s immigration debate is usually framed in reference to folks, legal or not, who come here from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Today we’re casting the net a little wider, in a conversation with two people with immigrant roots in another part of the world.</p><p>Ravi Radheshwar, 32, grew up in Michigan. He’s an American citizen, but the son of immigrant parents who came here from India to pursue graduate school. His friend Vijay Subramanian, 39, has a story similar to that of Radheshwar’s own parents. Subramanian came to the U.S. from India in 1995 for graduate school and then stayed for a stint as an engineer at Motorola.</p><p>For the final installment of <a href="../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a>, our recorded conversation series that tries to get at the heart of why we believe what we believe, we’ve asked these two friends to mull over whether the U.S. should disband its strict immigration laws in favor of a more welcoming set of “open border” policies.</p><p>Subramanian is frustrated with America’s immigration laws, and the way they seems to punish and reward different people arbitrarily. He would like to see people move freely around the globe. Radheshwar acknowledges that America’s immigration laws need reform, but doesn’t want to abolish them entirely. He worries the massive influx of people that could result from disbanding such laws would lead to major financial strain for local and national governments.</p><p>You can listen to an edited version of their conversation in the audio posted above.</p><p><a href="../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> is produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/" target="_blank">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company.</p></p> Fri, 27 May 2011 21:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why-should-we-open-us-borders-87092 Ask Me Why: What good is a union? http://www.wbez.org/story/antonieta-caicedo/ask-me-why-what-good-union-85277 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-15/union newspaper article.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the next installment of our conversation series <a href="../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> we have two voices on opposite sides of the debate about unions.</p><p>First is Antonieta Caicedo, 43. Caicedo grew up aspiring to work in human resources in a union environment, but became disillusioned by what she saw once she got there. She left feeling like unions hurt private sector companies more than they help them. &nbsp;</p><p>Public school teacher Sarah Boehm, 33, on the other hand, thinks that unions are vital for protecting workers’ rights. Her opinions are also rooted in her personal experiences. She says she feels she would have been treated more fairly by a former employer if she had been able to seek council from her union rep at the time.</p><p>Inspired by similar debates in Wisconsin and elsewhere these two friends, who met five years ago through their shared love of jazz, tackle such questions as: What is the value of a union in 2011? And is it possible to protect workers from abuse without them?</p><p><a href="../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> is produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/" target="_blank">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form <a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2011 21:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/antonieta-caicedo/ask-me-why-what-good-union-85277 Ask Me Why: To forgive, but not forget http://www.wbez.org/story/abuse/ask-me-why-forgive-not-forget-83884 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-17/shadow face photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This next installment of <a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> tackles a painful, hot-button topic: Should convicted sex offenders stay on a permanent registry that documents their offenses? Or, should they be removed from the list after some period of time?</p><p>Helena Carnes-Jeffries, 36, picked the topic. You may have heard her on our airwaves last month talking about <a href="../../../../../../story/budget-cuts/dear-chicago-don%E2%80%99t-forget-mentally-ill">her struggles with mental illness</a> that stem from the childhood sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. When she learned that her father had abused other victims, she felt like the system had failed to protect others, just as it failed to protect her.</p><p>Carnes-Jeffries&rsquo; conversation partner was friend and fellow writer Betsy Benefield, who is in her early 50s. Inspired in part by her Christian faith, Benefield felt strongly that even people who have committed the most heinous of crimes deserve a shot at redemption.</p><p>When Benefield revealed her own personal stake in this topic, the exchange turned into a meditation on forgiveness. How do you know when it&rsquo;s time to forgive? And how can you make sure someone has really changed? You can hear an edited version of their conversation in the audio posted above.</p><p><a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> is produced in collaboration with the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form <a target="_blank" href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">here</a>.</p></p> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 22:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/abuse/ask-me-why-forgive-not-forget-83884 Ask Me Why: Navigating extremism http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why-navigating-faith-and-terrorism <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Terrorism Awareness Week image.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Kate Murray, 24, and Hafsa Arain, 23, met their freshman year at DePaul University. Together they navigated dorm life and built a close friendship, starting when Murray planned a trek through the Loop to explore their new surroundings. &ldquo;That was the first day I was like Katie and I are going to be really good friends,&rdquo; Arain recalls. &ldquo;She was so full of life.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their friendship was later tested by campus politics. Arain is a progressive Muslim who spent her college years invested in interfaith peace causes. Murray is a conservative Christian who joined the College Republicans and helped bring a series of lectures to campus under the umbrella of <a href="http://www.terrorismawareness.org/islamo-fascism/49/a-students-guide-to-hosting-islamo-fascism-awareness-week/">Terrorism Awareness Week</a>. Murray says the events, which were sponsored by controversial conservative David Hororwitz, were supposed to explore individuals who &ldquo;use religion and pervert it for political gain.&rdquo; But Arain and others thought the series singled out Muslims and found it offensive.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The event proved polarizing on DePaul&rsquo;s campus and detrimental to Murray and Arain&rsquo;s friendship. When they met for this conversation they revisited what happened during that week and debriefed the emotional fallout it caused. It was the first time they had talked openly and honestly about what had transpired during their college years. Among the questions they discussed were: How do you talk about controversial topics in a respectful way? And can you put friendship before politics? You can hear an edited version of their conversation posted above.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why"><em>Ask Me Why</em></a><em> is produced in collaboration with the </em><a href="http://www.prairie.org/" target="_blank"><em>Illinois Humanities Council</em></a><em>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form </em><a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 25 Feb 2011 23:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why-navigating-faith-and-terrorism Ask Me Why: Do the Jews need Israel? http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-do-jews-need-israel <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/flag photo 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rabbi Brant Rosen, 47, remembers vividly the night he met his future congregant, Boris Furman, 58.</p><p>He was applying for the position of rabbi at Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston and attended a party thrown by the search committee. Rosen sought Furman&rsquo;s advice about the local schools, but as the night progressed they discovered a shared sense of humor and a love of goofball comedy like the Three Stooges. The two became friends, important Furman says because &ldquo;we don&rsquo;t just have to be a Rabbi and a congregant.&rdquo;</p> <div>Although Rosen and Furman have a rapport and friendship based on humor there is one serious issue on which they disagree. It is also one of the most politically charged topics for American Jews: Is Israel essential for the future security and well being of the Jewish people? And is it essential that Israel remain a Jewish state?</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Furman grew up the son of Holocaust survivors in a community of immigrants who had fled Europe and the war. He feels that Israel is essential for the future survival of the Jewish people, and that when it comes to future persecution, it&rsquo;s not a matter of if but when.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Rosen, on the other hand, grew up feeling the kind of safety and security afforded to Americans raised in the post-war boom. He feels that state building is a less worthy endeavor for Jews than is the struggle for justice and human rights evoked by the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>You can hear an edited version of their conversation in the audio posted above. Both Rabbi Rosen and Mr. Furman express their own opinions; their comments are not meant to reflect the policies or positions of their congregation.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why"><em>Ask Me Why</em></a><em> is produced in collaboration with the </em><a href="http://www.prairie.org/" target="_blank"><em>Illinois Humanities Council</em></a><em>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form </em><a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></div></p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 22:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-do-jews-need-israel Ask Me Why: Does God exist? http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-does-god-exist <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/god photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Shay Senior and Henry Pye are juniors at <a href="http://www.globalcitizenshipexperience.com/index.php">Global Citizenship Experience High School</a>, a tiny tuition-based school in Chicago&rsquo;s Lakeview neighborhood.</p> <div>The school has only 16 students, which means Henry and Shay take every class together. You&rsquo;d think they&rsquo;d know each other pretty well as a result. But this week they had the opportunity to get to know each other even better, by having the kind conversation they might not have in class.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For this next installment of <a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a>, our recorded conversation series that explores the personal roots of our differing beliefs, Shay and Henry chose a question that has vexed philosophers since time immemorial: Does God exist? And if he does, does he play a role in our everyday lives?</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Henry and Shay come from very different backgrounds and their upbringings are reflected in their differing opinions on religion. Shay grew up on the South Side of Chicago going to church with her family every Sunday. She believes there is a God who is with us every step we take. Henry grew up on the North Shore. Religion was not emphasized in his home and although he believes that God may have existed at one time, he has now has no presence in our daily lives.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the edited version of their conversation posted above you can hear them probe each other&rsquo;s reasoning before eventually finding common ground.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> is produced in collaboration with the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form <a target="_blank" href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">here</a>.</div></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 22:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-does-god-exist Ask Me Why: Is gay marriage worth fighting for? http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-gay-marriage-worth-fighting <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/gay marriage rally .jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gay marriage continues to make headlines across the country as lawmakers from various states debate the issue. Earlier today Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee <a href="http://newsblog.projo.com/2011/01/chafee-fox-affirm-commitment-t.html">promised to sign a gay marriage bill into law</a> should the state legislature send it to his desk. It was a promise that echoed statements made by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn about his intentions for the <a href="../../../../../../story/civil-unions/civil-unions-bill-heads-illinois-senate">civil unions bill</a> passed by the Illinois legislature in December. Meanwhile Maryland lawmakers have said <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/06/AR2011010603253.html">the issue will be on the docket</a> for their upcoming legislative session.</p><div>Amidst the passionate debates taking place nationwide, it&rsquo;s interesting to remember that there are differences of opinion even within the LGBTQ community about whether marriage equality should be their most important fight.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For example, Searah Deysach, owner of the Edgewater sex toy store <a href="http://www.early2bed.com/">Early to Bed</a>, says she has no interest in the institution or rituals of marriage, even after twelve years with her partner. Deysach believes that gay people should have the same rights as straight people, but sees marriage as a broken, old-fashioned institution that should not be privileged over other kinds of relationships.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Deysach shared her views with WBEZ in the latest installment of <a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a>, our conversation series that asks two people who disagree on some issue to get to the bottom of why they believe what they each believe.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Deysach&rsquo;s companion for this conversation was her friend Jackie Kaplan, a political and social activist with the anti-poverty group <a href="http://www.avodah.net/about/">Avodah</a>. Kaplan&rsquo;s social justice work and her ten-year marriage to wife Ann have convinced her that anything less than full marriage equality will leave families like hers stuck in separate-but-unequal limbo.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>You can hear an excerpt from their conversation posted above. They started the conversation by discussing how each sees her own relationship, what they call their significant others, and the ambiguous territory their less than legal status puts them in.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> is produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form <a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">here</a>.</div> <p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 23:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-gay-marriage-worth-fighting Ask Me Why: Cars vs. bikes http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-cars-vs-bikes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Andrew Ciscel photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Only around 1% of Chicago residents bike regularly for transportation. Some cyclists see themselves as an embattled minority, fighting for a safe space on roads that were not designed with them in mind. Some drivers see cyclists as a nuisance, flouting traffic laws and putting themselves and others at risk. But do cyclists deserve the same rights as cars on the streets of Chicago? That&rsquo;s the question in this next installment of <a href="../../../../../../series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a>, our series of recorded conversations that explore the personal experiences and stories that shape our beliefs. Each installment of <em>Ask Me Why</em> pairs two people who know each other and disagree on some issue, asking them to share what's at the root of why they believe what they believe.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In this case, Dan Schleifer and Rich Beckmann are friends who met through their shared interest in cooking. They see eye to eye where food is concerned, but they disagree on their preferred modes of transportation. Dan sold his car when he moved to Chicago from rural Virginia and bikes to work daily. He&rsquo;s been hit by a car more than once and is angry that drivers so often disregard his safety. Rich sees biking on the street as inherently dangerous and drives to get around. He gets upset when he sees cyclists disregard the traffic laws he himself must obey.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the audio excerpt posted above, Dan and Rich share stories of what they&rsquo;ve witnessed and experienced on the streets of Chicago. Their conversation is a good reminder that not every difference of opinion can be resolved through talking, but that hopefully something good comes from trying to understand the other person&rsquo;s perspective.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Ask Me Why</em> is produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form <a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">here</a>.</div></p> Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ask-me-why/ask-me-why-cars-vs-bikes Ask Me Why: The individual vs. society http://www.wbez.org/story/aristotle/ask-me-why-individual-vs-society <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/megaphone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ask-me-why">Ask Me Why</a> is a series of recorded conversations that explore the personal experiences and stories that shape our beliefs. Each story takes a pair of people who disagree on some issue, and asks them to get at the root of why they believe what they believe.</p> <div>This next installment of <em>Ask Me Why</em> pairs teacher Ruth Martin with her student Charles Glass. Ruth mentors Charles in the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/OdysseyProject">Odyssey Project</a>, which offers college level humanities courses to adults.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>One of the texts they read in this year&rsquo;s class was Plato&rsquo;s <em>Apology</em>, which chronicles the trial of Socrates by the Athenians. Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens by teaching them radical ideas, like atheism, which Athenian society deemed dangerous. Ultimately Socrates was found guilty and was condemned to death, an outcome Ruth says is hard to see as anything but unjust.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>That is, she says, until you take into consideration the feelings of the Athenians. If Socrates was imparting ideas or values to these impressionable youth that fell outside the boundaries of what was sanctioned by Athens, how could he be seen as anything but a threat?</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This conversation around <em>Apology</em> led Ruth and Charles&rsquo; class to discuss a question Plato raises in the text: is it more important to be true to oneself or to be a good citizen? In other words, is it better to follow your own moral code, or to conform and contribute to society in the ways it deems fit?</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the audio excerpt posted above, Ruth and Charles tackle this question, explaining their perspectives in the context of their personal experiences. Charles has worked in a number of institutions that call for conformity, including the Navy and the criminal justice system, and feels that preserving your individuality and your personal moral code is key. Ruth, on the other hand, grew up in an environment that afforded her every privilege but community, and feels that working for society&rsquo;s common good is a duty she can&rsquo;t afford to ignore.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Take a listen to their conversation above. If you&rsquo;re interested in participating in <em>Ask Me Why</em>, <a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">you can download the application form here</a>.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em>Ask Me Why</em> is produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company.</div></p> Sat, 11 Dec 2010 00:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/aristotle/ask-me-why-individual-vs-society Ask Me Why: National Day of Listening http://www.wbez.org/story/culture/ask-me-why-ann-and-daniel-talk-about-schools <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/listen melvin gaal_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>In the years since the 2000 election normalized the concept of red and blue states, America has only become more politically and culturally polarized. We&rsquo;re more likely to be friends with people who share our opinions, and listen to media outlets that reflect back to us our existing beliefs. Social media and new digital technologies have revolutionized the way we talk to one another and share our opinions, but they haven&rsquo;t necessarily made us better at listening, or at disagreeing without shouting, debating, or itching to make our next point. We can text and we can Tweet, but can we have a conversation without maligning the other side? Can we actually listen to what the other side has to say?</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>WBEZ is proud to present <em>Ask Me Why</em>, a series of recorded conversations inspired by StoryCorps <a href="http://nationaldayoflistening.org/">National Day of Listening</a>. In collaboration with <a href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>, we asked pairs of people who know each other and who disagree on an issue if we could record them having a conversation - with a bit of a twist. We told these pairs they couldn&rsquo;t debate, argue or challenge each other. They could only take turns asking each other questions, and listening to the answers. Rather than argue point-counterpoint, the goal would be to better understand why the other person thinks the way they do: What personal experiences shaped their opinion on this issue? Did they always have this opinion and if not, what changed their mind? We wanted to present the idea that thoughtful deliberation and disagreement involves not just making your point, but listening to and working to understand those with whom you disagree.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For this first installment of <em>Ask Me Why</em>, we have an excerpt from a conversation that took place between Ann Hanson and Daniel Kreisman, two friends who met as graduate students studying education policy at the University of Chicago. Ann and Daniel have spent hours debating policy with one another, both as classmates and as friends. But until recently they had never asked how the other arrived at their beliefs.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For example, why do they feel differently about the issue of school vouchers, when they both read the same studies and took the same classes? Daniel, who taught at underperforming public schools in New Orleans, believes that public money should be given to parents to spend on private schools; while Ann, who grew up the daughter of public school teachers in Milwaukee, does not.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the audio excerpt posted above, Daniel and Ann talk to each other and share the stories behind their beliefs, and surprisingly find some common ground.</div> <div>&nbsp;<em><br /></em></div><div>&nbsp;<em>Ask Me Why</em> is made possible by generous support from The Boeing Company and is produced in partnership with the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council</a>. Over the next few months we will bring you more installments in this series.&nbsp;If you would like to participate in the <em>Ask Me Why</em> series, you can <a href="http://www.prairie.org/ask-me-why">download the nomination form here</a>.&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 24 Nov 2010 23:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/culture/ask-me-why-ann-and-daniel-talk-about-schools