The Paula Gordon Show Logo The Paula Gordon Show


Arianna Huffington

     ... writer, commentator and web-publisher. Once powerful within America's conservative circles, Ms. Huffington is now identified with progressive ideas and ideals. Her pointed criticisms of the Republican status quo included a run for Governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger. She's a well-known syndicated columnist, television and radio commentator, author of 11 books including On Becoming Fearless. Her "" has attracted a great deal of attention as a source of news and opinion in the Internet blogosphere. The many-faceted Ms. Huffington started life in Greece, graduated from Cambridge University as president of its famous debating society and is the mother of two teen-aged daughters.


Fear is not a left-right issue, says Arianna Huffington, who has been prominent at both ends of America's political spectrum. It is time to master fear.  Embrace it.  Put fear's powerful energy to work. How? Overcome it with your passion for something greater. Become fearless. It is like a muscle -- the more you exercise fearlessness, the stronger it becomes.

Fearlessness is both personal and political for Ms. Huffington, who has been speaking out on both for decades.

When fear grips a nation, it is very dangerous, says this Greek-American who lived under the infamous "Colonels" and now worries about America. Politicians throughout the ages have used fear to do things which should not be done. Fear-mongering by politicians can only be challenged and addressed when we are solid in ourselves, she is confident, when we are living in our own fearlessness. Why? Because then you can think more clearly and resist being caught up in a collective fear.

It's not that government is neutral, she reminds us. America's government is actually hard at work benefiting those at the top. And it's not just Republicans to whom she objects. A lot of Democrats have gone along, she reminds us, acting from a fear that she finds almost worse that what the Republicans are selling -- Democrats are supposed to be the loyal opposition, fearlessly standing up to what's happening. If they had, she says with her typical candor, the United States would not be in Iraq. The information was available to them as well as to the war's many opponents. What stopped Democrats from voting against the enabling resolution was fear, she says, fear of losing the 2002 election...subsequently lost.

Offering legions of stories as guides to women and men, Ms. Huffington is particularly concerned that women and girls let fear steal the best parts of their lives from them. Stand up to the fear of ridicule and criticism, she urges. stand up to the fear that we'll appear inconsistent or are going to lose friends. Arianna Huffington is qualified to speak from experience, serves as a genuine role model. In the mid-1990s, she experienced all of those fears and more. Choosing to embrace them, she transformed fears' energy to fearlessness and herself from a widely heralded right-wing Republican to a leading voice for progressive ideas. Fast forward a decade, in the face of skeptics and nay-sayers, her changed the blogosphere.

There are plenty of guides out of the morass of fear that has paralyzed much of America, she reminds us. Draw inspiration from across the ages and all cultures. Consider Montaigne, who remembered that most of the terrible things in his life never happened. Eschew fear, along with grasping and social conformity, says the Buddha. Her favorite? The Greek god, Hermes, who epitomizes fluidity, fulfilling dreams without being stopped by our own fears and anxieties. The only constant is change, Hermes and Ms. Huffington remind us. Embrace that reality, fearlessly. It will free you for a life full of adventure and joy.


[This Program was recorded September 1, 2006, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.]

Conversation 1

Arianna Huffington assures Paula Gordon and Bill Russell that fearlessness is not the absence of fear, it is fear's mastery. She compares it to a muscle, urging listeners to choose adventure and joy over fear.

Conversation 1 RealAudio6:40

Conversation 2


When fear grips a nation it is dangerous, Ms. Huffington says, and shows the importance of addressing and acknowledging fear-mongering. With homage to Montaigne and Paracles, Ms. Huffington uses a personal example of the need to reject baseless fears. Paul Ekman's seminal work on human emotions leads to Ms. Huffington's summary of what she calls the four human instincts.

Conversation 1 RealAudio9:27

Conversation 3

The women whose stories she tells allow us to be vulnerable and intimate, Ms. Huffington says, convinced of the importance of speaking truthfully. “"Age segregation" -- also explored by Mary Catherine Bateson -- is considered along with what Ms. Huffington decries as a tragic epidemic of plastic surgery, comparing America's obsession with youth to Greek culture revering old people. Sleep is sacred she says, offering ways for people to address the sleep deprivation that plagues the nation.

Conversation 1 RealAudio12:02

Conversation 4

Writing every day about contemporary politics makes Ms. Huffington all the more eager for everyone to become more centered and fearless, able to confront current lies. She points to the fears of politicians of all stripes, noting that the current lack of authenticity is not a "left-right" issue. Fear can be overcome by a passion for something greater, she demonstrates, both personally and from among her friends. Don't let fear of criticism or ridicule hold you back, she urges, remembering her own experiences with both.

Conversation 1 RealAudio11:07

 Conversation 5

Whether using a skiing metaphor or The Natural Step founder Karl-Henrik Robért's strategies, it is vital to face one's fears.  Ms. Huffington describes her political transformation, shedding old beliefs as she grew and learned, facing realistic fears of the consequences. When you have new information that the current course is taking you over the cliff, you'd better change that course, she says, fleshing out her metaphor with urgent current American political realities. Government is not neutral, she observes, it is benefiting those at the top. She urges Democrats to shed their own fearfulness, which has kept them from being a loyal opposition.  She recalls the founding of

Conversation 1 RealAudio10:43

Conversation 6

The historical Buddha's injunction against fear, grasping and social conformity, and the wisdom of the Greek god Hermes give Ms. Huffington grounds from which to summarize.

Conversation 1 RealAudio5:19


Living a fearless life is a lot harder than talking about it. We admire the fact that Ms. Huffington abandoned the destructive practices of the Republican Party when they were in full ascendancy in the mid-1990s. We thank her for leaving behind Newt Gingrich and his fellow extremists of both genders who have come to dominate American government, becoming a clear voice for America at its best -- an alternative vision of what the nation can and must become if we are to reclaim our country from the rapacious and privileged few, or to regain our lost moral standing in the community of nations.

Related Links:

Arianna Huffington's On Becoming Fearless is published by Little Brown and Company, Hachette Book Group USA.  You'll find Ms. Huffington daily in the blogosphere at The Huffington Post.

Haynes Johnson documents the political uses of fear in The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism.  The politics of 1950s McCarthyism, he says, are still with us.

Christian minister Robin Meyers warns that the perversion of Christianity is destroying the world.  His prescription straight from the life of Jesus?  "Fear not."

Along with 8 others who died on Mount Everest in May of 1996, Beck Weathers was left for dead high on the mountain.  Awakening from a hypothermic coma and far beyond fear, he was driven by "the unspeakable melancholy of loosing the core of his being -- his wife and children" to survive and to rebuild his life.

In The Devil that Danced on the Water, Aminatta Forna tells the story of her father, Mohammed Forna, the finance minister of Sierra Leon in the early 1970s.  He fearlessly opposed the growing kleptocracy led by the President Siaka Stephens ... and was executed for his courage.

Tried twice by high Islamic Courts for his work in building schools for Muslim women, Greg Mortensen has twice been exonerated and his work endorsed. Working in remote parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr. Mortenson builds schools where soldiers fear to go.

Quick buttons

© 2006 The Paula Gordon Show.
All materials contained on this website are
copyrighted by The Paula Gordon Show and may
not be used in any way without the express,
written consent of Paula Gordon.