Return to Transcripts main page
How to Live Longer; Interview With Homeboy Industries Founder and Director Father Greg Boyle; Pervasive Messages Culture Sends About Emotional Suppression and Sexual Aggression; Peggy Orenstein is Interviewed About Her New Book; The Healing Power of Tenderness and Spirituality; Rehabilitating Gang-Involved Men and Women. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 17, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEGGY ORENSTEIN, AUTHOR, "BOYS AND SEX": Most parents would rather poke themselves in the eye with a fork than have talk to their children about
porn for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A rare glimpse into the secret world of boys with Peggy Orenstein, author of the definitive guide book, "Boys and Sex".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FATHER GREG BOYLE, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES: The healed gang member will not ever return to prison. Will not ever return to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tenderness is the antidote to toxic masculinity. Father, Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries brings home where it's rarely seen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN BUETTNER, AUTHOR, "THE BLUE ZONES KITCHEN": The idea behind the blue zones was to, in a sense, reverse engineer longevity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Blue zones, lessons on longevity from people across the world who live the longest, healthiest lives.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
In New York, jury selection in the rape and sex abuse trial of producer, Harvey Weinstein, continues. As his attorney, Donna Rotunno, complains the
#MeToo movement is shredding careers without due process.
Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, the drum beat of #MeToo allegations and lives destroyed forces all of us to reckon with masculinity, toxic or
For more than 25 years, Author Peggy Orenstein broke new ground with her intimate explorations of girls and sexuality in "New York Times"
bestsellers like "Girls and Sex". Now, she's turning her astute eye to "Boys and Sex," hearing directly from young men with their most intimate
experiences. And we've been speaking about the pervasive messages our culture sends about emotional suppression and sexual aggression.
Peggy Orenstein, welcome to the program.
PEGGY ORENSTEIN, AUTHOR, "BOYS AND SEX": Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, after so long reporting on girls, you've now turned to boys and the title of your book is "Boys and Sex", as we said. But the sub title
is very, very expansive, it's, you know, "Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent and Navigating the New Masculinity." There are all sorts of issues.
So, let's just start with the new masculinity and navigating that. How do you define it, first and foremost? So, how is it different from old
ORENSTEIN: Well, you know, the fact is that right now boys face a lot of mixed messages that are telling them on one hand to be scrupulous about
consent and on the other hand, that they should, you know, hookup with as many girls as possible without much care or concern for either their
feelings or their partners'. So, that creates a real contradiction in boys.
And when I would talk to guys, you know, on one hand, again, it's this contradiction that they were really egalitarian in the classroom, they felt
girls were deserving of their place in leadership and professional and academic opportunities. But then if I would ask them, what is the ideal
guy? I always ask that. You know, it was like they were channeling 1955. So, it was all the old stuff, aggression, being dominating, being athletic,
sexual conquests and especially emotional suppression.
AMANPOUR: Wow. I'm going to get to emotional suppression in just a second. But I want to ask you, after, I think, 25 years of chronicling the life of
girls, when it comes to, you know, being a girl or a boy and sex, what are the immediate differences? What are girls worried about when they talk to
you and what are boys worried about?
ORENSTEIN: Well, you know, the whole book -- the two books were really interesting and really very much about those differences. And, you know,
for boys, again, there's this issue of sexual conquests that still really defines what it means to be an ideal guy.
And when they talk about sex, for instance, you know, when guys talk amongst themselves, what do they do? They hammer, they bang, they pound,
they nail, they tap that, they hit that, you know. It's like they went to a construction site. It's not like they engaged in an act of intimacy. And a
lot of guys that I talked to were sort of struggling with that and with that expectation that they present that to the world in one way, even if
that wasn't really how they felt.
AMANPOUR: I heard and I see you write that, in a way, when you discuss with girls, they were worried about issues of, you know, whether they were
-- the body issues and things like that. Where boys are more worried about, you know, being cut off, as you put it, from their heart and those kinds of
issues, that they've created this sort of barriers and walls around themselves in different ways than girls have.
ORENSTEIN: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, if there's that sort of a two-sentence comparison of the two books, it would be that boys -- girls were cut off
from their bodies and their bodies' responses and boys were kind of systematically cut off from their hearts.
So, you know, what boys would say to me was that they learned to put up a wall between their real feelings and the world or they'd say, I trained
myself not to feel or I trained myself not to cry.
So, one guy said to me, you know, he wanted to cry when his parents got divorced, but he couldn't. So, he streamed three holocaust movies back to
back, and, you know, that worked. And very much, I think, at the heart of "Boys and Sex" is this issue of vulnerability for men and, you know, either
rejecting at the taboo against it, embracing it, capitulating to it and really wrestling with it all the time.
And the truth is it that when we cut -- you know, vulnerability is a fundamental human emotion, and when we cut boys off from that, it's also
incredibly important to the ability to attain and sustain relationships. Brene Brown calls it the secret sauce that holds relationships together.
So, when they can't express that, when they're not supposed to feel that, we're cutting them off from the very kinds of mutually gratifying,
personally fulfilling relationships that we want our boys to have.
AMANPOUR: And you mentioned Brene Brown, of course, she's a very well- known TED Talk and sort of sociologist in the realm of relationships. And as you say, concentrates very intensely on the idea of vulnerability, and
she's a big Orpah person as well. Oprah is always talking to her and she's become very, very popular in this sphere.
And I wonder when you talk about, you know, boys say that they can't -- you know, the suppression thing that you talked about, the emotional
suppression, is it because they've been -- they're not naturally like that, right? They've been taught, even in --
AMANPOUR: -- even in families which are pretty liberal and pretty advanced?
ORENSTEIN: Yes, that was something that was really interesting, because what research shows is that boys tend to get those messages about rigid
masculine norms from their fathers primarily. And there were definitely guys that I met who would say, yes, my dad would say things like man up or,
you know, that kind of thing.
But most of the guys would say, no, my dad wasn't sexist. My dad wasn't homophobic. I didn't learn that so-called, you know, toxic masculinity
stuff from him, but I did learn the stunted side of masculinity because he was more of that kind of sigh and walk away kind of guy who wouldn't engage
in any kind of conversation. So, I learned to do that from him.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting, the idea of conversation. I guess when people think about this subject, maybe they think it's easier for a
woman or either parent or a teacher or whoever to talk to a girl about these things. Perhaps not so easy to talk to young boys who are not
necessarily known for their chattiness.
ORENSTEIN: Right. And that's what I thought. You know, when I first -- I was a little bit resistant to doing this book. I did it after "Girls and
Sex" came out and people really said, would you please write about boys. So, I thought, I don't know, I might end up with some bunch of transcripts
that consist of uh-huh, nope, you know.
And I think the biggest surprise with this work more than maybe any particular conclusion was how very eager the boys were to talk. They -- and
I realized it was because nobody ever asks them. Nobody ever hears from them. And so, to be able to engage real boys in real conversation about
real issues around sex, gender, emotional intimacy, you know, it was just - - it really gave them an opportunity to explore their interior lives.
AMANPOUR: Now, because we are a broadcast entity, we're obviously not allowed to talk about the, you know, graphic details of perhaps some of
what they talked to you about and -- that's in your book. But you also, as we said in the subtitle, talk about the hookup culture, porn and all the
other things that in a very different way today's youngsters are exposed to.
Porn is a fact of life. Many, many people of many generations have used it. But you say what's accessible to young kids now is of a completely
different order. And in fact, I just want to quote something you said. Today's kids are guinea pigs in a massive porn experiment and porn of that
type is the de facto sex education. So, just tell me what you've been told that they have been exposed to, what's easily accessible.
ORENSTEIN: Yes, yes. I mean, if you have a teenage son, you know, he's been watching porn, basically. And I want to say that, you know, curiosity
about sex is normal. Masturbation is, you know, great, you know. But what is different for this generation of kids is that they can now get anything
that you can imagine and a whole lot of things nobody wants to imagine on their smart phones. And 24 hours, seven days a week.
And the stuff that is free and accessible shows sex over and over in this distorted way as something men do to women, as something -- you know, as
female pleasure as a performance for male satisfaction, distorted bodies. And they're watching that from the time that they go through puberty. And
if we don't get in there, you know, we don't have the luxury of silence anymore, because if we don't get in there and talk to our kids about what's
real and what's not real and missing from these images they see, then they're taking that into the bedroom.
And as one guy said to me and I think this was one of the most poignant quotes that I had and one of the most that I can say in TV is, you know, he
said, the whole idea of exploring sex without any preconceived notions of what it is and just that natural organic process has been ruined for this
generation by porn.
AMANPOUR: And what effect, if I might put it this way, does it have on -- I mean, you mentioned that it makes young boys think that dominating is the
right way to go, young girls that being submissive and having this done for the pleasure of boys, et cetera, is what is quite common. But what effect
does it have in the bedroom? I mean, does it have a performance, if I could put it that way, effect?
ORENSTEIN: Yes, it does. It does. And it's interesting, because what boys will say, like what anybody says about media, right, is it doesn't affect
me personally, right. Those other people but not me. That's not how media works. You know, what we see, hear and how it affects our behavior, it
affects our ideas, it affects our thoughts, it affects our beliefs. So, of course, it does affect them.
And boys who consume porn regularly in research have actually been shown to be more likely to believe its images are real and to be more likely to want
to put them -- to act them out in the bedroom. And they also show that they're less satisfied with their partner interactions, with their own
performance and with their partner's bodies.
So, those are some things to actually -- and I really felt this porn chapter in "Boys and Sex" was one of the biggest services I could offer not
only for parents to really understand what's going on out there, but also for boys themselves because it was the number one thing they wanted to talk
to me about. And they were really trying to understand the culture they were growing up in.
So, to give them something where they can see how other boys talk about it, reflect on it themselves and, you know, maybe open a different dialogue
inside of their mind about it.
AMANPOUR: But you do admit, of course, I mean, you've said several times that, you know, school sex education is just not enough. I mean, it's
mostly about, you know, consent and prevention and the biological nature of your body and this and that. But it doesn't give you the kind of talks and
the kind of interaction that you're saying only parents can do, because if it's either parents or porn, you know, you need the parents.
But you do admit that, actually, it's kind of difficult. Do the boys want to talk to their parents, do the parents want to talk to their boys or
girls about these things?
ORENSTEIN: Yes. Well, you know, yes, well, school sex ed, you know, forgot because most places don't have it. But, yes, most parents would rather poke
themselves in the eye with a fork than have to talk to their child about porn, for sure.
But, again, you know, you don't get to not parent because it's hard and our kids are growing up in a world where they are saturated with sexualized
imagery. I mean, forget about porn for a minute. Even if you could block all those sites, you know, and good luck with that, that's not going to
happen, they're still growing up with mainstream media which has become far more sexualized and continues to reinforce those same ideas about male
sexual entitlement and female sexual availability.
And, you know, one guy said to me, look, I think music has a really big impact on how guys treat girls because, you know, you're going around in
the car with your friends and you're hearing four, five, six, 10 times some version of family friendly, a hit it and quit it, let's just say, right,
it's going to affect your mindset.
AMANPOUR: Not to mention the words they use to describe girls on these songs in many, many occasions.
ORENSTEIN: Right, which I can't say --
AMANPOUR: Right, right.
ORENSTEIN: -- on your show.
AMANPOUR: Which is a little bit of a problem, isn't it? I mean, here we are trying to be informative and maybe educational, but the medium prevents
us. However, I think people will get it and it's really a moment for parents and others to explore how to talk to their kids if they care about
how their kids are growing up in the realm of intimacy.
But you also talk, obviously, about this idea of locker room and banter and the other kind of stuff. And I, obviously, want to play the -- you know,
the sort of locker room in chief that they were all treated to during the presidential election when President Trump was caught on an open mic
several years ago and it was made public. And this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss.
I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the -- you can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, there was the sound by then-Candidate Trump and immediately, he put out a statement that said it was locker room banter. He apologized
for offending people. His wife, Melania, said it was just boy talk.
And I'm struck through because many people condemned that and they thought, how could a president, a leader of a country, you know, indulge in that
kind of negative example. But I'm struck by how you say that it is (INAUDIBLE), that's how boys and men talk to each other actually in locker
And if a boy, you know, tries to stand up against that kind of stuff, he's ostracized.
ORENSTEIN: Yes. It's really -- it was -- it's really interesting and I actually just, last night, had a boy who was a division one athlete come up
to me to talk about his concerns about this. One of the guys that I interviewed whose name was Cole was on his sports team and he decided with
a friend that he wanted to try to challenge this culture. So, he went up against a guy who was saying, you know, despicable things about girls. And
the other guys made fun of him.
So, you know, you're a teenager, it's really hard to do that. So, you sort of step back. So, he stopped. The next time it happened, he remained silent
and his friend continued to say something. And what Cole said to me was, I watched as he stepped up and I stepped back, and I saw the other guys start
to like him less, stop listening to him and he lost all his social capital. And I had buckets of it left, but I wasn't spending it. And I don't know
what to do, because I don't want to have to choose between my own dignity and, you know, being part of this team. But how do I make it so I don't
have to choose?
And I really started to reflect about how silence -- you know, that silence that -- is where boys become men. It's what they can't say, what they don't
say, what they won't say, what they're afraid to say that creates the wall of masculinity as much as what they do say.
AMANPOUR: So, of course, it leads us to the next, you know, chapter in this, how do you raise boys, an X generation, to be aware of their
emotions, their feelings and others and to be able to say and to break out of this so-called silence?
I just want to play for you a little bit of an interview that I conducted with the British artist, Grayson Perry, who is not just an artist but also
writes a lot about masculinity and what it means to be a boy. And he told me it might take generations to breed this out of the culture around boys.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAYSON PERRY, CONTEMPORARY ARTIST: Emotional and social change happens at a different pace to intellectual and political change. And so, we've got to
start encouraging men and boys to understand the benefits of being more vulnerable, of having better relationships, it's going to make them
happier, it's going to mean they're not -- they're going to find the meaning of life in different places other than competition and consumerism.
They're going to find it in friends and family and community and, you know, these sort of things which are more positive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I see you nodding to that. And I just wonder, one, whether the boys you talked to wish that they had an outlet to be more overtly
emotional and not always, you know, training themselves not to cry or not letting in, and then how do you, you know, start this, perhaps, generation-
long effort to change?
ORENSTEIN: Well, you know, I really think that if anything -- if there's a silver lining to a lot of the misconduct that we've seen to the kind of
tape that you just played of Trump saying those things, it's that it's brought these issues to the surface and it's allowed boys to a degree to be
able to start pushing back. And the guys that I talked to, they were not blank slates. They were wrestling with these issues. And there was a great
opportunity and a great desire to have a more expansive idea of what it meant to be a man.
So, I think that that desire is there. And as somebody who has been writing about girls for 25 years, I know that 25 years ago we were in a really
different place with our young women. And through a lot of conversation with parents, with advocates, with activists, with educators, I think in
boys' cases, a lot of things -- a lot can happen with coaches. You know, we have made real change in girls' lives. And I think that now we're at that
same moment that we maybe were when I started writing about girls with boys, where we're ready to take a look at the ways we've created
contradictions in their lives, that we're ready to take a look at the way we've cut them off and we're ready to help them be the men that we know
they can be.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's a really good way to end and a really optimistic route forward. Thank you so much, Peggy Orenstein. Thanks a lot.
ORENSTEIN: Thank you for having me on.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, the message is getting through. She's posting on her social media, number flipping seven on "The New York Times" bestsellers
Now, here's yet another reason for optimism, as we struggle with the pervasive forces that drive boys to violence in some of the most desperate
corners of the United States. Father Greg Boyle is a Catholic priest and founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest rehabilitation program in the
world for active gang members.
For more than 30 years, Father Boyle helped the hardest of hard cases break their vicious cycle of abuse. Today, Homeboy Industries helps more than
15,000 people each year to find jobs and leave gangs behind. And Father Boyle told me about the healing power of tenderness and spirituality.
Father Greg Boyle, welcome to the program.
FATHER GREG BOYLE, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Listen, your life and experience and what you have decided to do over the last many years is really fascinating. I mean, you were many years
ago a priest, a parish priest at the Dolores Mission Church and it seemed to be in an area that had the most gang violence in your neighborhood. Tell
me about it and what caused you to leave the pulpit and expand your mission, so to speak.
BOYLE: Well, I'm still a judgment priest. But for 35 years, I worked with gang members. So, I run a program called Homeboy Industries and it was born
in that parish when we had eight gangs at war with each other and it would have the highest concentration of gang activity anywhere.
But now I run -- born from that is the largest gang intervention rehab re- entry program on the planet. So, we get 15,000 folks a year walk through our doors trying to reimagine their lives.
BOYLE: So, I just kind of evolved and fell into doing that. But I'm still a judgment priest.
AMANPOUR: Yes, of course. But more doing that kind of stuff than preaching in church or are you still preaching in church?
BOYLE: Yes. I'm -- in all our detention facilities in Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, we have a lot of them. So, I'm there on Saturdays and
Sundays on a rotating basis. But during the week, I am part of this movement, really, to help gang members find a way to an exit ramp, if you
will, off this violent freeway.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's talk about it. First and foremost, explain to our viewers exactly what does Homeboy Industries mean? What is Homeboy
BOYLE: Well, it's evolved now into this -- we have nine social enterprises where rival enemy gang members work side by side with each other. We have
this extensive training program with 300 gang members, again, all from rival gangs. And it's more healing centered. It's a therapeutic community
of tenderness where people can find rest and relief from their own toxic, chronic stress. And then they can re-imagine who they are in the world and
re-identify themselves and gain some resilience and then they move beyond us after their 18 months with us.
So, it's quite large and quite extensive. It has everything from therapy to case management, to tattoo removal.
AMANPOUR: Well, listen, you say that. I mean, you've written a couple of books on this subject, "Tattoos on Heart," "Barking to the Choir," I mean,
you've documented very clearly what you're doing. But, you know, you sort of described them a little bit as sort of cuddly gentle giants.
But put it in perspective. I mean, you've also talked about, you know, these rival gang members who are after each other, or, you know, your
mission at the church was during the so-called decade of death in Los Angeles. What kind of hardened gang members, including criminals, are we
talking about, and what brings them through your doors to look for a different way?
BOYLE: Well, it's like anything in recovery, you know, it takes what it takes. So, somebody has to walk through our doors. So, it can be the birth
of a son, the death of a friend, the long stretch in prison. But they have to take that first step. But they're all in varying degrees on a continuum
of either despair or dealing with their trauma or needing to kind of address mental health issues.
So, they come to us ready, they're tired of being tired. And so, we attempt to help them find kind of an essential healing. You know, all of us healing
will end in the graveyard. But this is kind of an essential piece, if they can take this step, it's our guarantee that they won't re-offend.
And still, this week, I'm going to bury my 252nd young person killed in our streets for no reason at all. A young man who worked for us some time ago
and was quite addicted to drugs and was killed.
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's a lot of people.
BOYLE: And so, that continues.
AMANPOUR: 252nd burial in your neighborhood. And you've even talked about how, you know, people you know have been killed by other people you know. I
mean, this sort of cycle of violence that doesn't pass you by either.
BOYLE: Well, not all of them are from the parish community where I began, because I run a very large gang intervention program that service the whole
County of Los Angeles. I get asked to do this because I know so many gang members and it's kind of what happens.
Now, since we began, you know, gang-related homicides have been cut in half and then cut in half again. And I think anybody in Los Angeles, from
sheriff to chief of police, to mayor, would certainly acknowledge the singular impact Homeboy Industries has had on that number.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me just quote some of these numbers because they are quite staggering. There are 450 or so gangs in Los Angeles. About a
membership of 45,000, if you can name and number them. The LAPD says gang membership is rising. But as you say, homicides and shootings have dropped,
as you say, by half and then half again. But, of course, 60,000 Los Angeles residents are homeless, there about. And, you know, that's one of the big,
big issues and we'll talk about that in a moment.
But I want to ask you, why do people join gangs? And you have said gang involvement is about a lethal absence of hope. No kid is seeking anything
when he joins a gang. He's always fleeing something. There are no exceptions.
BOYLE: Yes, if we knew that, in fact, kids joined gangs because they're stuck in despair or they're weighed down by a huge trauma or are suffering
from mental illness, then as a society we would infuse help to kids for whom hope is foreign, we would help heal the damage and we would deliver
mental health services in a timely and culturally appropriate way. This is what we would do if our diagnosis was correct.
But more often than not, we kind of go down a wrong path and nobody has ever met a treatment plan that was born -- a good treatment plan born of a
bad diagnosis. So, getting this right is certainly an important first step.
AMANPOUR: But I'm shocked when I see some of the stories that you talk about. These kids have told you horrific stories. I mean, a boy who got his
arm snapped in half by his father, another one who had to wear, you know, multiple layers of clothing to hide the blood because his mother had beat
him so hard. I don't know whether people understand that these people who have created so much mayhem from so much mayhem.
BOYLE: Well, it shouldn't be so surprising that a traumatized person is going to traumatize people and a damaged person will cause damage. And so,
if -- on the ACES study, the Adverse Childhood Exposure Study, I mean, it's a checkoff list of 10, you know, everything from child abuse to violence,
to parents who are locked up or mentally ill or addicted to drugs. Everyone who walks through our doors is a nine or 10 on this ACES study.
I grew up in the same city. I'm a zero on this study. So, I stand in awe at what these folks have had to carry rather than stand in judgment because
they have been so abused and so tortured and terrified and I would not have survived a day -- a single day of any of their childhoods.
And so, once you have kind of an awe and respect for what they've had to endure, then you try to, I think, redouble your efforts to get them to a
place where they can heal this damage. And at Homeboy we say the reverse of this, of course, is a cherished person is going to find their way more
surely to the joy of cherishing themselves and others. And that's what you want, is healing.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is -- healing, born of empathy and understanding and a willingness to take the next step with these people. To that end, you
have said, and I believe I'm quoting you correctly, Homeboy Industries a key tenet is, nothing stops a bullet like a job. How do you specifically
help rehabilitate these people, help, you know, build them up, make them whole again? What kind of jobs? How definitive can you be in actually
helping them in that way?
BOYLE: Well, in the early days that was our motto, nothing stops a bullet like a job. And I think we've evolved since we've been around for 32 years
now, we've evolved from being job-centered to healing centric.
And so, the idea is if you don't transform your pain, you're going to continue to transmit it and inflict it. And so -- but the first stop in
anybody's transformation is a safe place, you know. And so, they -- so gang members find a sanctuary at Homeboy and then they become the sanctuary that
they sought and then they go home and provide that sanctuary to their children. And for the first time you've broken a cycle.
So, you know, an educated inmate may go back to prison or not, and an employed one may or may not, but a healed gang member will not ever return
to prison, will not ever return to criminality.
And that's our guarantee, in fact, because that has been our palpable experience.
AMANPOUR: Can you just give me one sort of example, a couple of -- from the street to healing and rehabilitation?
BOYLE: Every single one is an example.
You know, you have -- there was a homey who, as a child, ran away from home at 9. Who runs away from home at 9 years old? Well, his mom used to put
cigarettes out on him and hold his head in the toilet and flush until he nearly drowned.
One entire summer, she chained him in the backyard, as if he were a dog, and brought out food to him occasionally, and sometimes didn't, an entire
Now, I'm going to presume his mother is mentally ill. But if you can imagine the damage that inflicted on a child, for him to be able to kind of
recoup, which is, in fact, what he's done. But it took a long time, everything from therapy and, you know, kind of an understanding of what had
happened, and where they can move beyond their own rage and shame and inhabit the truth of who they are, that they're -- in the end, they're
exactly what God had in mind when God made them.
But that is a journey that this young man took and has arrived at, and -- but it's hard to imagine the impact that kind of terror and torture had on
a young soul.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, as a parent, it's even hard to hear you describe it, much less to have witnessed something like that, and to have to have
dealt with helping him.
So does this young man have a family now? Does he have a job?
BOYLE: He does. He's working. He has a family and is -- has been able to thrive, though the remnants of that torture will always kind of follow him.
But once he kind of turns into it, rather than race from it, then the healing absolutely took in. And, plus, you know, Homeboy is still a
community of tenderness for him that receives him and has reverence for him and he can always use it as a touchstone place, where he felt so initially
cherished, and that that has had beneficial consequences for his life.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And you have used many times in our conversation the word tenderness. And it's not a word you hear often in the public sphere, the
People are much more, you know, cost-based analysis and all the rest of it. So, I wonder, how do you get the funding? Have you got the commitment from
your city, from your state to -- they can see that this is something that is so necessary and so beneficial?
BOYLE: Well, we're a $22 million annual operation, so half of that comes from our nine businesses, our social enterprises.
The other half, we have to raise, which is a heavy lift. And only 5 percent comes from government. So, you know, government often kind of moves from
one thing to the next, but we have been steadily there for 32 years.
But, you know, kind of our secret sauce is the tenderness. Only the soul that ventilates the tenderness has any chance of really changing the world.
And so tenderness is how you kind of make love have connective tissue. Otherwise, love just stays in your head or in the air.
But unless it becomes tender, it's not really effective. And so we kind of think at Homeboy that tenderness is the highest form of spiritual maturity,
and it's how people are really able to move from pain and trauma to a whole other place of thriving.
And so we're kind of committed to that idea. And the folks who see that and recognize this fund us.
AMANPOUR: Well, I wonder whether you have thoughts on how what you do could have a much larger impact.
I mean, it's not a secret that we live in a world that is extremely violent in its polarization, whether it's physical violence or whether it's
political, intellectual, personal, just thought violence in terms of extreme positions, tribalism and all of that that's going on right now.
I just wonder whether this has a contagious quality to it that you can imagine.
BOYLE: I think so.
We have a thing called the Global Homeboy Network. So, rather than airlift Homeboy into other parts of the country or the world and become like the
McDonald's of gang intervention programs, instead, we help communities and stakeholders in different cities to imagine their own way of responding
using the Homeboy methodology.
So we have 147 programs modeled on Homeboy in the United States and 16 outside the country. And so it's not just, how do you deal with a gang
issue, but you mentioned earlier homelessness or disaffected youth or street kids or mental health issues.
It's kind of a model of how to hold people, and how to be reverent of what they have to carry, and how to give them rest, so that you can move to the
next place of healing.
So that's the methodology that they use in Sydney with street kids, and they're a partner with us, or in Glasgow, Scotland, where they deal with
returning prisoners out of prison. It's the same kind of methodology.
So I think what we have discovered at Homeboy in terms of the community of tenderness that holds people, that it's a model that works for just about
every vexing social dilemma we face, from homelessness, to mental health issues, to disaffected youth.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about faith, then, because you have written -- at least in "Barking to the Choir," you have written that, occasionally, your
faith's gas tank has hovered on E, on empty.
How do you cope? How do you replenish? How do you refill?
BOYLE: Well, if it's -- I always tell my staff, if you're depleted and near burnout, then that's because you have allowed this to become about
But the minute you allow it to be about the other, and you allow yourself to be reached by folks on the margins, then the work is eternally
replenishing. You never burn out. You don't even come close.
Then you delight in the person right in front of you, and you choose and decide to be tender in the moment. And that's the thing that always keeps
But I don't find that things so much ever shake my faith, but they're always shaping it, as it is meant to evolve, so that you can be in the
world who God is, compassionate, loving and kind.
Father Greg Boyle, thank you very much.
BOYLE: A privilege. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, tenderness towards your body and mind might also be the secret to living to 100. That is according to Dan Buettner, "National
Geographic" fellow and founder of the Blue Zones Project, a well-being improvement initiative launched in over 40 cities across the United States.
It also inspired a cookbook called "The Blue Zones Kitchen," based on the diet of people who live in these zones and who live long and healthy lives.
And he tells our Hari Sreenivasan what exactly makes these places so special.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dan, you have made a career out of figuring out what is the quintessential thing that has us
leading healthy lives, long lives?
So, explain the Blue Zones. What are they?
DAN BUETTNER, AUTHOR, "THE BLUE ZONES KITCHEN": Well, the idea behind the Blue Zones was to, in a sense, reverse-engineer longevity.
Something called the Danish twin study established that only about 20 percent of how long we live is dictated by our genes. The other 80 percent
is something else, lifestyle, environment, what have you.
So, with funding from the National Institutes on Aging and an assignment from "National Geographic," I hired demographers to go look at -- through
worldwide census data and identify places where people either have the highest centenarian rate or the highest middle age life expectancy,
factoring out infant mortality and so forth.
And then, once I identified these places, took another team of experts there to go try to parse out, try to find the correlations or the common
denominators of longevity in these disparate parts of the world.
SREENIVASAN: So between Okinawa and Sardinia and Loma Linda, California, what do all these people have in common?
BUETTNER: Number one -- I just finished a book on this topic, doing a meta-analysis of their diet.
The four pillars of every longevity diet in the world are whole grains, sometimes corn, rice, wheat, greens, most greens that we overlook in United
States, but greens that we would weed-whack from our backyard, they're making delicious salads and pies out of them.
Tubers, and -- like sweet potatoes. And then I would say the most important longevity food in the world is beans or are beans, beans of all kinds. If
you're eating about a cup of beans a day, it's probably adding three or four extra years to your life expectancy.
SREENIVASAN: So, besides the food that's going in their bodies, there's no magic specific exercise. They're not watching the same Richard Simmons
BUETTNER: That's me. No.
No. And, shockingly -- and, by the way, I would argue that exercise has been an unmitigated public health failure. Fewer than 20 percent of
Americans get enough exercise.
Yet, in Blue Zones, fewer -- in some of them, fewer than 1 percent of people are ever obese. Here in the United States, 70 percent are obese or
overweight. They're not intentionally doing exercise, but, rather, every time they go to work or to a friend's house or out to eat, it occasions a
They have a garden out back. So every day, into their 80s, 90s and 100s, they're moving gently, weeding or watering or harvesting. They don't have
all the mechanical conveniences that have engineered physical activity out of our lives.
There's not a button to push for yard work and another to push for housework and another button to push for kitchen work. They're still
kneading bread by hand and doing things by hand.
It's this idea of moving naturally all day long. My team figures that they were nudged in movement every 20 minutes.
SREENIVASAN: So they're burning calories. They're just not going to the gym to do it.
BUETTNER: They're burning more calories than they would 30 minutes in the gym.
But, more importantly, the metabolisms are kept at a higher rate because they're moving all the time. You sit at your office for more than about an
hour-and-a-half, your metabolism drops into a hibernative state.
By the way, on average, people go -- even people who say they go to the gym, it's fewer than a twice a week.
SREENIVASAN: And then what about the sort of social aspect of it?
BUETTNER: In my book, "Blue Zones," I actually identified nine common denominators. And they fall in essentially four categories.
They move naturally. They have sacred daily rituals to reverse the stress of everyday living. A stress trigger is something called inflammation. And
if you're always stressed, it's becomes chronic inflammation which is at the root of every major age-related disease, heart disease, cancer,
diabetes, even dementia.
So they're -- the Okinawans have ancestor veneration. They take a few moments to remember where they came from. The Ikarians and the -- Ikaria is
another one of the Blue Zones, and the Costa Ricans, Nicoya, they're taking a nap.
The Adventists are praying. They begin each meal with a prayer. They wake up. And the Sardinians just do happy hour. But either way, there's a daily
time where you just slow down and you let the stress reverse course a little bit.
They also -- and I would argue this is the most important aspect -- they connect, and not necessarily intentionally. They live in communities where
they're -- they're nudged together in social spaces. So the option to be imploded in your house on your device doesn't really exist.
If you're not showing up to church or the village festival, somebody is pounding at your door. They tend to put family first. And, interestingly,
in almost all Blue Zones, when you see people making it to 100, they have a very concentrated, solid, committed social circle of three to five friends.
In some places, like Okinawa, it's culturally determined that they're called moais, M-O-A-I, moais.
SREENIVASAN: Do they make these commitments early in their lives, the moai?
BUETTNER: So, when you're -- traditionally, when you're 5 years old or so, your parents bring you down to the village, you meet four or five other
people, the ceremony ensues, and you're supposed to travel through life together.
When things go well, good crop or a raise, you're supposed to share it, and likewise...
SREENIVASAN: Oh, wow.
BUETTNER: ... when things go poorly.
Yes. And we hear a lot about these social determinants of health. And it's come about 15 years after I wrote the book, but they're so important.
Loneliness, if you don't have at least three friends you can call on a bad day, it shaves about eight years off your life expectancy, as bad as a
smoking habit. So these things that we have kind of overlooked because they seemed too subtle to make a difference really come to the forefront when
you're studying populations of longevity.
SREENIVASAN: So you're talking about almost the opposite of 5,000 friends on Facebook, three real friends that you can call or that have that ability
to sustain you emotionally.
BUETTNER: Yes. That's right.
In fact, we have -- with "National Geographic," we created a happiness quiz called the True Happiness Test, where it takes about five minutes.
But we ask the question about life satisfaction and then how much time people are spending on social media. And you see this very clear curve.
People who aren't on social media at all aren't optimally happy. Up to about four 45 minutes seems to be the sweet spot.
SREENIVASAN: A day?
BUETTNER: A day -- suggesting that people, that they're using it just for maybe a little intellectual repose or to connect with some friends, so they
can later meet in real life.
But it's very clear. After two hours of social media use, happiness drops off a cliff. And the least happy people are on there eight hours a day.
SREENIVASAN: So let's talk a little bit about how you're taking all this knowledge that you have learned through these explorations, through these
Blue Zone books.
You're now applying it to different American cities that are willing and interested in trying to sort of almost hack their outcomes. So let's talk -
- how did that happen?
BUETTNER: I'm going to tell you something now that took me eight -- eight years to figure it out.
In populations where people live a long time, it's never because they tried. They never pursued any of the crap that we try. They're not --
they're not on diets and exercise programs, supplements.
Longevity ensued. These -- these 100-year-olds have no more idea how they got to be 100 than a tall man knows how he got to be tall. So they are
simply products of their environments. They live in places where the healthy choice is not only easier or unavoidable.
So this idea that longevity ensues became the organizing principle. In 2009, I got some funding from AARP and the University of Minnesota School
of Public Health to go about trying to manufacture an American Blue Zone.
And the idea here was not to try to convince a whole city of individuals to change your behavior. You will fail. It's never happened in the history of
the world where you get a whole population to get on the same diet or exercise program.
But we work on optimizing city policy. We certify restaurants, grocery stores, workplaces and schools. And we get a critical mass of individuals
to agree to optimize their home and social network.
But, in every case, it's permanent or semi-permanent changes to the life environment, so people are mindlessly nudged into better behaviors all day
long. And it works fabulously.
SREENIVASAN: So give me some example.
Let's kind of go through that list here. One was, how do you change businesses, communities? But let's focus on the workplace. Everybody spends
eight or 10 hours a day. It's an enormous part of how they perceive the happiness in their life.
So how do you certify a business that is going to contribute to someone's either increased longevity or happiness?
BUETTNER: So, to begin with, you think about how they get to work. We know that somebody who takes public transportation or walks has about 11 percent
lower chance of dying of a heart disease than somebody who drives their car every day.
So, in a Blue Zone-certified workplace, maybe you pay for your own parking, but you get subsidized if you take a bus. And in some Blue Zones'
workplaces, they actually pay their employees to walk or take a bike $5 a day, which is better than going to the gym, as we talked about.
The food environments, when you're eating at work, are there some plant- based options, or is everything pieces and burgers? So we help them change the defaults.
And then a very important thing, the biggest determinant of whether or not an employee is happy at work is whether or -- not how much you pay him, not
how much you promote him or her, but whether or not he or she has a best friend at work.
So we have these techniques of putting employees together, organize them around their interest and their values, and then challenge them to walk and
eat plant-based together.
It works fantastically well. So, if an employee does that, we give them Blue Zone certification.
An important thing to realize, though, is, you can't rely on just one microenvironment. You have to think of orchestrating the perfect storm of
policies, places and people for at least five to 10 years, and changing that whole -- that whole life radius, that whole city comprehensively, with
enough intensity, before you start to see a difference.
So, say, for example, in that in that company, if you are encouraging people to take public transit, there's got to be public transit options in
that city right there. Or if you're encouraging them to bike to work, hopefully, there are bike lanes in that city.
So how do you change all of those policies or encourage all those policies?
BUETTNER: So, working with cities -- and we're now working with 50 cities, including Fort Worth, Texas, and Orlando, Florida, and Austin, Texas.
We come to the city council and the mayor with policy bundles. They are essentially menus. We have learned the quickest way to be shown the exit to
the city is try to tell people what to do.
But when you give city council 25 different evidence-based ways for changing that city, so they -- so the active option is the easy option for
getting around, it turns out that seven or eight of them are both feasible and effective.
And our team is really good at driving that sort of consensus, identifying the low-hanging fruit, seven or eight policies, and then my team is
responsible for making sure those policies get implemented.
A couple really good examples, in the United States, every street is redone every seven years on average. So, you can either have really wide lanes,
high-speed limits, and traffic lights far away, or you can build wide sidewalks, a bike lane. You can narrow traffic lanes.
That slows down traffic, fewer accidents, less pollution in the air, and begin to favor the streets for human beings, favor the human being, rather
than just favoring the car. And if you favor the human, the human comes, and you can raise the physical activity level of a whole city by up to 30
percent by just optimizing the built environment.
SREENIVASAN: So, and then, when you think about this for kind of the bean counters, whether it's the treasurer of a city, or if it's the CFO of a
company, all of these things make a cost difference? When people are healthier or happier, is it less expensive in the long run?
BUETTNER: So, look at the macro picture.
We spend $3.7 trillion a year on largely avoidable diseases in the United States, 18 percent of GDP, and that number continues to go up. So it's
In Fort Worth, Texas, our work occasioned about a 6 percent drop in obesity rate, about a 3 percent drop in smoking. And Gallup -- we don't measure
ourselves. Gallup measures us. Gallup calculates that, on average, each year that we have been there over the last two years, we have saved the
city about a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in projected health care costs.
But that took us five years to get there, but now it's paying off very handsomely. For an employer -- for, like, General Motors, their second
biggest line item right behind steel is their health care costs.
So, an employer loves the idea that you can bring down health care costs by optimizing the environment.
SREENIVASAN: How do you help people figure out, how do I make a sustainable change in my life that contributes to my happiness or my
BUETTNER: So, when it comes to happiness, to put it simply, if happiness were a cake recipe, and some of the ingredients are, you need food, you
need shelter, you need health care, you need some mobility, you need some education, about a college -- less than a college education.
You want to partner up with the right person. It's very important. You need a sense of purpose or meaning in your life and a feeling of giving back.
But the variable with the most variability, in other words, the most important ingredient to that cake recipe is where you live.
What I mean to say here is, if you are honest happy where you're living, about the most effective thing you can do is move to a happier place.
And we know this because, when you follow immigrants from unhappy places, like Moldavia, moving to happy Denmark, or unhappy places in Asia and
Africa, and they move to relatively happy Canada, within one year, their happiness raises to the level of their adoptive home.
Their sex doesn't change. Their age hasn't changed much, their sexual preference, their education, their religion. None of the fundamentals of
their life really changed, except they moved.
So the point here, once again, is, if you want to get healthier, or happier, don't try to change your behavior. That will almost always fail
for almost all people in the long run. Change your environment.
And there's lots of statistically underpinned ways to optimize your environment to favor both longevity and happiness.
SREENIVASAN: And even if you can cannot move, you can still change your environment?
My grandmother used to tell me, show me your friends, I will tell you your future. So, if your three best friends are obese and overweight, there's
150 percent better chance that you will be overweight yourself.
Smoking is contagious. Drug use is contagious. Junk food eating is contagious. Unhappiness is contagious.
So, proactively surrounding yourself with three or four friends whose idea of recreation is playing tennis, or walking, or bicycling, a few friends
who are vegetarian, so you're not always eating burgers and baby back ribs, and at least a couple friends who care about you on a bad day.
That's the litmus test. When you're feeling crappy, and your chips are down, and you have been fired, can you call this person, and they will come
see you, or loan you money when you're out of money?
So, really curating that social environment, very important.
SREENIVASAN: All right, Dan Buettner, thanks so much for joining us.
BUETTNER: It was a pleasure.
I'll see when you're 100.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, this week, Pope Francis made history by appointing the first woman to a senior position within the Vatican.
Francesca Di Giovanni, an Italian lawyer, will become the undersecretary in the Vatican's diplomatic division. The Roman Catholic Church remains,
though, strictly patriarchal, only ordaining men as priests and senior lay positions.
Pope Francis has already broken the mold, coming out against climate change deniers and anti-immigrant policy. And Di Giovanni calls her appointment
unprecedented, which is, of course, a welcome small step, if not a giant leap.
And that's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.