Lexi is the curator of Civil Renaissance, a newsletter and intellectual community. She is an award-winning writer and journalist currently writing on a book on civility and civic revival for St. Martin’s Press, one of the top five largest publishing houses in the world.
“I am passionate about the way that ideas and storytelling can change people’s lives. As a journalist and a lifelong lover and student of intellectual history, I view everything through the prism of my love of history and philosophy. That’s why I created Civic Renaissance, and publication and intellectual community dedicated to beauty, goodness and truth—and reviving the wisdom of the past to help us think more clearly about our own era. My work on civility and civil society (my book is forthcoming from St Martin’s Press in 2022) stem from my passion for conversation about ideas. The intellectual life is the communal life. And who is going to want to have a conversation about ideas if everyone is a jerk?”
How did you become interested in that area?
I grew up in a home that nourished curiosity and learning. My father would read to me at night about Plato’s Theory of the Forms. My mother had my younger brothers and I learning Greek and Latin at an early age through flash cards and other curricula. I couldn’t help but love classical history and philosophy! My mother and father always encouraged us to probe deeper into questions related to the human condition. Who are we? Why are we here? What is the best way to live? It’s now my pleasure and passion to bring other people into conversations like that, ones that provoke us reflect on ourselves and our place in the cosmos. I love these themes, and to introduce them to thinkers and books that can help them think more intensely about them.
What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?
I teach people that the intellectual life is the best life, and that the life of the mind for everyone. We need community and to engage our minds to lead meaningful lives and to become fully human. That is what we try to do at Civic Renaissance—to de-institutionalize and democratize ideas and learning.
What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?
Take the risk of making a new friend, and make the sacrifice to keep old ones. I try to show people the high promise of conversation and community. Community and friendship are often hard, and they take work! We’re naturally selfish and it’s sometimes difficult to overcome our egoist nature for the sake of others. We’re also risk adverse—and social scientists have found that social rejection affects the brain in ways similar to physical pain. But we live in an increasingly atomized and lonely world where we are simultaneously more connected digitally, but still isolated emotionally. Community has never been more needed and important. But they’ve also never been more possible! The pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated these challenges, yet. But it’s never been easier to cultivate a passion or hobby and then find others who care about the same things.