The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Dissent Is Contagious: Eyal Press On Standing Up For Your Beliefs [VIDEO]

Why did Eyal Press think it was important to tell the stories of people who stood up for what they thought was right, even when it meant disobeying authority? As he says in an exclusive interview at Lavin's New York office, he believes these actions are contagious. “I don't think we'll ever live in a world where people who stand up in the face of the group, when the group is veering in the wrong direction, will be the majority,” he laments, “I just don't think that's realistic.” The people who take a stand against the norm are meant to stand out from the pack, and there are often more people who follow the norm than those who don't. On the other hand, he also says that one person coming forward makes it much easier for other people to follow.

This is one of the most positive findings that he came across when researching his book, Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People. He documented the stories of those who chose to “break ranks” and dissent from the norm because they felt morally inclined to take a stand. The book, Press says in the interview, is all about choices. And hard choices with very real consequences, at that. While the people who refuse to indulge in morally unconscionable acts are often in the minority—they are vitally important all the same. These people remind us that conformity is not the only choice, Press says. They remind us that we do have a choice and that there are always people who will fight for what's right.

An award-winning writer, Press has extensively covered the way that morality and politics intersect and the role that conscience and morality play in the way we live. Providing concrete examples of acts of dissent throughout history, Press gives keynotes that cut to the core of one of the most pervasive parts of the human experience. His topics are relevant and eye-opening and leave audiences wondering how strong their own moral compasses are—and whether they would stray from their path in the face of opposition.

Taking A Moral Stand: Eyal Press On Writing Beautiful Souls

Standing up for what you believe to be morally “right” isn't always easy. According to Eyal Press, writing about the people who take a stand has proven to be equally as challenging. In this exclusive interview with Lavin, the Beautiful Souls author describes what it was like profiling the people in his book. All of the individuals he chronicled, ordinary people doing regular jobs, had “broken rank” in some way or another—disobeying an order or a superior because they felt they were being asked to do something that went against their code of ethics. Unfortunately, those people's actions didn't always have the outcomes they expected.

“In each case they naively believed that they would do what they thought was right and people would look into the facts and realize that their motivations were to stand up for a principle that other people, broadly speaking, in their society, claim to share and that things would be fine,” Press explains. “[But] they're terribly wrong in this and suffer enormous consequences.” He says that it was difficult to write about the outcomes because the people he profiled would be punished or not get the response they had expected. As much as he says that it's sad to document the way that their actions are punished, he also admits that there is a positive element to the stories. Press purposely chose ordinary people to show that even though they may not have gotten the outcome they expected, they did indeed have an impact.

In the book, Press explains how the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not by those looking to overthrow the system. Rather, it is ordinary people who cling to their convictions and want to make the world a better place. They believe in the system and therefore, want to stop any fraud or wrongdoing from occurring within the confines of authority—whether their actions are praised or not. In his award-winning writing and his keynotes, he discusses how our internal moral compass affects how we operate in society. He has spoken about everything from the controversial Israeli-Palestinian conflict to urban poverty. His topics are eye-opening and dynamic—and causes audiences to think critically about how morality affects their lives.

Eyal Press: Navigating Today’s Moral Dilemmas [VIDEO]

What is it that causes some of us to stick to our conscience, even in the face of punishment? Eyal Press, the author of Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People discusses how we compartmentalize ethical concerns in a new interview. An exclusive Lavin speaker, Press explains that we often become aware of modern ethical conflicts but then shrug them off. “It's so easy to see a news report and then just kind of go on in our lives,” he tells us in the interview. We will read or watch something about a big issue, such as climate change, without thinking critically about it or doing anything to help the situation.

While we know that something is terribly wrong, life tends to get in the way of us spending an extended period of time thinking about the issue. We have a dinner to make or a flight to book and lose sight of the ethical dilemmas we are faced with daily. The easy conversation to have is one about the conflicts of the past, he adds. We are able to discuss and predict what we would have done during a genocide from 50 years ago, for example, but we often neglect to ask ourselves: “What do I do today, given the world that I live in?” Press explains that this illustrates how the most threatening things to our lifestyle are abstract or hidden. We know they exist, but we put other concerns at the forefront of our thought process.

Press is an award-winning journalist and writer who speaks to the way we navigate issues of morality. His talks land at the intersection of politics and morality, and he has discussed everything from the highly controversial Israeli-Palestinian conflict to urban poverty. His subject matter is dramatic and eye-opening, and he asks audiences to question how their own moral compass operates—and what that means to society as a whole.