On radio this morning, Glenn decided it was time to have a conversation with his listeners. Some of you have been with Glenn for a long time and have seen first hand the personal transformation he has undergone. Others who are newer to the program might not have been as familiar with where Glenn has been. Regardless, Glenn explained why it is time to take off the masks and allow others to see us for who we really are. At that point, the world will begin to change for the better.
Below is an edited transcript of the monologue:
I want to have a conversation, just the two of us here for a second – especially if you are a long-time listener. Everybody has pivot points, and a point where their life changes, for better or worse – a car accident or a chance encounter, temptation that you follow or one that you conquer. I have had several of these pivot points in my life. When I was 13, my mom committed suicide. I’m an alcoholic and then in recovery. I had a pivot point each time one of my children was born. A pivot point of my divorce, and then finding Tania and in a chance encounter and marrying her.
Five years ago, I had another huge pivot point, and it is still changing me. I am coming up on the five-year anniversary of that next summer. It takes five years to really change a man. When I asked people to gather in Washington, and it happened to be on the anniversary of the day Martin Luther King gave his so important speech of judge a man by the content of his character and not the color of his skin.
That day, 500,000 people came to the mall. And I remember I was across the street. We had no idea if anyone was going to show up. I was doing another fundraising breakfast, so we could pay for it. And Joe came up behind me on the stage and he said, ‘We have to leave now. The crowd is already across the street.’
Something like that doesn’t happen and leave you unmarked. For good or bad, you’re marked. And there’s a couple of ways that people would go. You would either become an egomaniac, which, quite honestly, I was afraid would happen to me. You would see all these people, and they came for me. No, they didn’t. No, they didn’t. Some would become an egomaniac. The opposite happened to me. If I had the gift of prophecy, if I understood all God’s secret plans, if I had all the knowledge of God and had such faith that I could actually move mountains, but I didn’t love people, I would be nothing.
Five years ago, as I have left that stage, I really thought that would be the last thing I would do in my career. I went on vacation, and I went to the Grand Teton Mountains. I heard in my head, ‘You are standing in the wrong place.’ I didn’t even understand that. I was happy. I was at the top of my field. But I don’t understand what the plans are for me. I didn’t know that something very different was in store for me.
People think they know who I am. We have this relationship. But this happens with people who I don’t have a relationship with, someone who hasn’t listened to me for along time – they still think they know who I am. Some love me, some really hate me, but the funny thing is, I don’t even know who I am yet. I know who I want to be. I know who I have allowed myself to become in my worst times. But who am I right now? I don’t know.
I’m a guy in transition. I’m a dad. I’m a husband. I’m an American – for whatever that means in today’s world. I don’t even know what that means. Do you? I’m an American. I’m a guy who is just struggling to try to make sense of the world that we live in, and I don’t think we’re all that different. Truth is, I think no matter what your background, no matter what your pivot points, no matter who you voted for. That’s who we all are: People just trying to figure it out. Different name, different places, but we generally have the same fears. We are all afraid of being alone. We are afraid of failing. Failing at work. Failing at home. Failing with our kids. Failing with our spouse. Not being able to provide. Not being happy, being alone.
When it comes down to it, we are all afraid that we are not as good as we should be. We are not as good as somebody else is. I don’t know how people make it. I don’t know how people do it all. I lay down in bed so many times a week and think, ‘How do people do this?’ I can’t keep up with everything. I don’t know how to raise my kids. I don’t know how to teach principles in a society the principles are going the other direction. I don’t know how to do this.
In your worst moments, most of us feel like a fraud.Most of us feel at some point or another, I don’t know what I’m doing, and we are afraid of our own thoughts at times. How many people go through life thinking, ‘If they just knew what I really think; if they knew what I have done; they don’t know how close I am to collapse. Help, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ But we don’t ever say those things out loud. Instead, we quietly turn to experts. We listen to some talking head, like me. ‘Well, I trust that guy. He’s done a lot of thinking. I agree with him generally.’ Or ‘I like him.’ Or we listen to some shrink that says they have all the answers. For $20, you could go out and buy their book and their book has all the answers and nothing changes.
It’s the same problem that people have always had. Who am I? Why am I here? I don’t feel like I’m even making a difference. If I am making a difference, maybe I am making a difference in the negative way. I don’t know. You know what I’m doing with my kids. I will probably cost my kids a fortune in the end with psychiatric therapy bills. We just want to love and to be loved. I don’t care if you are a Palestinian or Israeli. When it comes down to it, you just want to be loved and love your family. You just want to be happy and at peace, surrounded by your family. You just want to stop the nonsense and stop pretending.
What’s amazing is we are all so much alike. Yet, we all have a different story. I used to walk to work when I lived in New York City. 18 million people. am still overwhelmed by this, every time I walk the streets of New York. 18 million people. 18 million stories being written right then. Stories of heartache and triumph, time wasted, lives redeemed. Everything that has ever happened is happening again right now. And everything that is happening right now is taking us exactly to where we need to be. Everything is happening for a reason. It’s brought all of us to this point in time, to exactly where you are, where I am, where you are. We just have to stop and notice it.
I remember a few years ago, when I first moved to New York. It was cold November afternoon, and I went to Rockefeller Center. My office used to be above the stage at Radio City Music Hall. I scheduled lunch with my daughter at this restaurant by the ice rink. And this restaurant was right at the ice rink level downstairs, and I waited for her. She was running a little late. I watched this woman. When I saw her first, she was frumpy, plain, and she had cheap clothing. She looked so tired. I remember when I first looked at her, I thought she was around 40. Then I looked at her again and I continued to watch her. She looked maybe 50 or older. She just looked so tired.
She sat down to change into her skate, and she pulled out of this bag a pair of ice skates. They weren’t the rentals. They looked expensive. And they didn’t match her. They didn’t match what she was wearing. She was a frumpy, old tired woman, and she had these beautiful expensive skates. And I began to wonder who is she.
As I watched her through the glass, that idea went from a fleeting thought to a profound question. Because when she stepped on the ice, she transformed. All of a sudden, this woman, who I had just imagined was a faceless accountant was an artist. She was as graceful as a ballet dancer. She floated over the ice. Just a split second before, she looked heavy and frumpy and now she was floating and graceful and she was perfect. It was a pivot point for me because I began to wonder about her childhood. I began to wonder how would was she when she began to skate. Was she a former Olympian? Was she a professional? Had she hurt herself and she wasn’t able to pursue her dreams? Did she not make the cut? Maybe, worse yet, she had never tried?
I began to wonder about her entire life because I saw a change. This is who she was. The look of the accountant was the mask. And I began to want to actually follow her back to work and just be invisible and watch people interact with her. I mean how many people in her office knew this about her? How many people pass her in the hallway every single day, people who claim to know her, and miss the beauty and the talent and the profound artist in this simple, humble, invisible woman. Does anybody really even see her?
And then I had a worse thought. Has she ever asked that of herself? Does anybody ever really see me? See, I’m supposed to notice. I think we all are. But I’m supposed to notice. I’m supposed to point out. I’m supposed to lift up. I’m supposed to affirm.
We are all in trouble. All of us are in trouble. Our kids are turning to sex and drugs. Our kids are turning to stuff. Nothing has meaning. They’re killing. They are being killed, and I have begun to believe here, in the last year, that maybe it’s not the stuff that we’re doing. Maybe it’s not all of that. It’s the stuff that we are not doing. We are not seeing each other. We no longer listen to each other. We are in this unbelievable world of communication now, and we are becoming more alone and more isolated. We are doing it because we believe that stuff makes us happy and others will fulfill us. That beauty or fitness is the secret or money is our god. We have more PhDs, more education, more years studying than anyone in the history of the world, and yet we can’t seem to find a simple answer to some of our simplest problems, and our families are falling apart.
I want you to know that I’m on a journey. I want you to know that I am profoundly changing, and I don’t know what all of that means. But I wanted to have this chat with you this morning because I don’t want to ever leave you with the impression that I have any answers – because I don’t.
I have theories. I know what I believe, and I have faith. But anybody who says that they have all the answers, that they can fix you or they can fix a problem bigger than themselves, they are a liar. They’re ignorant, delusional, or they’re Jesus. And I can tell you right now, I haven’t hired Jesus, so anybody on this show that says that, they are a liar. What we are supposed to do is notice. We are supposed to look beyond what the world says about you or about me or about them, whoever they are, because we are in this together.
Actually, that makes me feel better because I know that people are good. They just need the excuse to be better than they are. I don’t know where I end up a year from now. I think I do. And the path is becoming much more clear to me, but we have to take off the mask. We have to start seeing each other. We have to start being real. We have to be authentic. We have to love each other, even though we don’t like each other. We have to say the hard thing because if you really, truly love someone else, you will tell them the tough truth. But if you are trying to get them to love you, then you will tell them what they want to hear. I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear. In fact, I fear I’m going to tell you a lot of things that you really don’t want to hear.
But hear this: We are going to make it, as long as we stick together. We are going to make it, and we’ll make it together. The secret really is quite simple: People are meant to be loved and things are designed to be used. The problem today is things are being loved and people are being used.
Let’s change that. Not in some grand way of let’s change the world. Let’s just change that in us. Come with me on a journey and explore and just change you. I will change me. You change you. We may even change to not really like each other in the end. We may fall out of friendship. I don’t know. But you work on you, and I’ll work on me. Let’s just see things differently. Let’s choose to be happy. Let’s choose to be better than we were yesterday or everyone favor minutes ago. Let’s be different than everybody else that is just walking around in a fog.
Prove to yourself that people really are good, that there is much more that unites us than divides us. Let’s see people for who they really are, beyond what the media has made them into, beyond what the parties have made them into. Let’s see people for who they really are – beyond the frumpy coat and the look of being tired. And if we can do that, then maybe, no promises, but just maybe people will begin to see us for who we really are.