This week, we are joined by our first guest, Marty Nocchi! Marty has focused much of his life’s work on human dignity, a pursuit that led him into and years later back out of the catholic ministry. He shares his story and thoughts on how institutions drift from their mission to protect themselves, plus a few tips for staying focused on the mission as organizations grow. Episode Notes can be found here at uncoverthehuman.wearesiamo.com
Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.
YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human
Alex Cullimore 0:00
This week on Uncover The Human, we are joined by our first guest Marty Nocchi. Marty is focused a bunch of his life's work on human dignity pursuit that led him into and, subsequently years later, out of the Catholic ministry, he joined us for a fascinating conversation about that story, as well as his views on how institutions can lose track of their mission as they become instruments of self protection. It's a really interesting conversation, can't wait to share it with everybody. Let's get to it.
Welcome to Uncover The Human, where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives,
Cristina Amigoni 0:28
whether that's with our families, co workers, or even ourselves
Alex Cullimore 0:31
when we can be our authentic selves. magic happens.
Cristina Amigoni 0:34
This is Cristina Amigoni.
Alex Cullimore 0:36
This is Alex Cullimore.
Let's dive in.
Authenticity means freedom. Authenticity means going with your gut. Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself, not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you. Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself. It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep rooted and true. Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be. It's transparency relatability no frills, no makeup, just being.
Alex Cullimore 1:16
Hello, and welcome back to Uncover the Human. This week, we have our guest Marty Nocchi. We are talking about life cycles of institution this week. And Marty Nocchi comes to us as a LinkedIn connection with Cristina. We've talked to you back and forth a few times. Cristina, you want to say a couple words about him?
Cristina Amigoni 1:31
Yes, definitely. I met Marty through LinkedIn through a mutual connection. And we've definitely grown to appreciate each other's posts and comments. Marty is an influencer without always knowing that he's an influencer. And I love that part about his bio. He has spent nearly 20 years of his adult life in ministry in the Catholic Church and left it behind about two years ago. After spending a year living and working on an organic farm, he moved to Pennsylvania with his family. As the pandemic was shutting down in our lives, as well, as we all moved in with families or got stuck with families at that point. He has spent the time since then seeking a network of people while discerning next steps in his life. He loves to learn and understand where curiosity and dignity stand as core values of his.
Alex Cullimore 2:22
I think Marty has one of the more fascinating backstories, we've heard just lots of interesting parts of his life, spent some time as a teacher, became a priest left the priesthood about two years ago, but one of my favorite parts about Marty is that he lists as a core value of his, human dignity. And Marty, I'm going to ask you about that one right off the bat. How did you come to that as feeling like that's a core value? What does that mean to you?
Marty Nocchi 2:47
Well, that's a tough way to start after saying I'm stuck with my family
Alex Cullimore 2:52
It might have been projection from our part.
Cristina Amigoni 2:56
I'm stuck with my family.
Alex Cullimore 2:59
Yeah, that's right. It was Cristina that said that not me. Just for the record, that's not part of Marty's bio, Marty's family.
Cristina Amigoni 3:08
That's my commentary, the peanut gallery.
Marty Nocchi 3:12
However, I will say, I have not lived with my family for 20 years. So it has been quite the adjustment to move back home.
Alex Cullimore 3:22
We'll see if your human dignity still stands intact.
Cristina Amigoni 3:26
So you're happy to be stuck with your family?
Ah, yeah, actually, it's been really good, because I've spent so much time away that I have not had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my nieces and nephews. And so I've really been able to reconnect, not that the rest of the family doesn't matter, but to be around them. And I did some teaching with them when the pandemic first started. So it's just been really good to connect with them and be a part of their lives, because otherwise I have not been a part of their life. So yeah, it's been really good for that.
Alex Cullimore 3:59
That's really great. That's one of the things that feels like the pandemic has helped with even as we are separated, there is some richer connection. And there's some more reaching out for that kind of connection. It's nice to see and always nice to experience.
Marty Nocchi 4:10
Yeah, they would make it much harder to leave here, after having this experience with them.
Cristina Amigoni 4:17
That's wonderful. And for the record, I am happy I'm stuck with my family. So just in case my family listens to this.
Alex Cullimore 4:24
It's ok Cristina, we can cut that one out later.
Cristina Amigoni 4:28
No, it's fine.
Alex Cullimore 4:30
I mean, cut out the part where you say you're thankful.
Marty Nocchi 4:33
But you asked me how I came to it. That was your question.
Alex Cullimore 4:37
Yes. curious about that. I've seen many core values. Of course, we see them in companies listed all the time, but you don't get to see human dignity and just dignity in general is not one you see, and not often one you even see on certain values exercises trying to pick out our own core values and understand our personal engagement with the world. So I really love human dignity as a value.
Marty Nocchi 4:58
Well, that's because maybe you didn't do Brene' Brown's dare to lead?
Alex Cullimore 5:03
That is on my to do list.
Marty Nocchi 5:07
I was going to say I'm in the middle of it now, but I'm actually, like 7-8 weeks into it, I'm almost done with the course. But right after you go through the whole part on shame and stuff like that you get to values. And it was in the process of going through that where I could look at human dignity and then kind of trace it back throughout my life, how that has been such a core value. And I even think it's part of my own story leaving ministry, which seems ironic or paradoxical, or however you want to say it. Why would you have to leave an institution like the church when human dignity is a part of, it's such a core value. And this kind of ties in with some of our other things we've talked about, institutions aren't always caring about who people are, they are much more concerned about their own institution, their own self interest. And so I often found myself fighting with the institution because of that, because for me, it really was about people and is still about people, I would go to bat for people. Because that is such a core piece of who I am.
Alex Cullimore 6:17
So listeners in case you're curious, we did not this time, bring up Brene' Brown, Marty actually brought it up first. And he's identified that people are one of his core values. So you can see why maybe there was a good values alignment between Cristina and him and why we have him on this show. I'm really excited to dig more into this. One thing that you've kind of hinted at is that this exploration of human dignity or connection to human dignity was one of the factors that was leading you more or less away, and finally, separating from the Catholic ministry. I don't know how much you'd like to talk about that, but it's a fascinating idea. If you have any of the details there, we'd be curious to know.
Marty Nocchi 6:55
We as Americans see this play out in politics and religion are so interconnected, in an unhealthy way, more often than not, and it becomes about these teachings, per se. I mean, there's like, you pick a teaching, and I could probably tell you how it butts up against human dignity, but at the core of everything is, and you see this in someone like Pope Francis, Pope Francis speaks about it, quite often. For him, it's about the person first. And I know Cristina and I talked about that on LinkedIn quite often, human first human connection, human belonging, how central this is that it's often missed because of a teaching. That stance seems to stand in conflict with who the person actually is. And I mean, I've always seen it. The teaching is the teaching, and it can be whatever you want that teaching to be. But it also has to butt up against humanity who suffers, who struggles, who has issues, who has trauma in their lives. And we don't allow room for growth in between what that teaching is and who the person is. The idea of this sense of teaching, I don't know if we can ever get there as human beings, it's something you don't strive to be better, but can never take away the fact that people are people. And I think that's what we often miss.
Cristina Amigoni 8:21
I think the piece that comes to mind when you talk about that is the fact that each person is unique. And and so the teaching in institutions, as well as the workplace or, you know, schools, normal schools, or whatever we see, we tend to want people to all fit in the same box or in a few boxes, right? And so it takes away all the humanity piece of humans, which is that we're all different. We react differently. We have different experiences, we have different core values. We see the world as we are not as it is. And so that's one of the disconnects that I find may be in the teachings as well.
Marty Nocchi 9:00
You asked for an example. I'm thinking, of course, the most highly controversial one is always abortion. It comes up in every election. We heard it again in this election. And then I also think it's the most misunderstood. It's been used. It's been hijacked by political parties, for their own advantageous to get their votes. But I spent part of my ministry was working with women and men who have had abortions. And it's sold in the political system as like someone just wakes up one day and they want to have an abortion. That has never been my experience ever in the people that I've worked with. It has been a progression in a person's life, usually some kind of initial trauma. And that trauma builds on itself over the course of time. And the irony of the whole thing is when they get to the point where they have an abortion, they often feel they have no other choice but to have it. When it becomes just about this teaching, you're missing the whole person's life when you're looking at it, and it literally it's been hijacked by political parties for their own favor.
Alex Cullimore 10:10
That's a wonderful example. Because one of the antidotes in my mind to being able to understand that better and give it a little more nuance. And this comes up in so many aspects of trying to reconnect to humans and understand humans at human level, is jumping in with empathy. First, understanding what kind of position somebody is in when they're making a decision, like whether to have an abortion like that, that is something that nobody comes to easily, like you said. You don't just wake up one morning. If this is happening today, nobody's there, everybody has their own journey to it. And if we have the empathy to understand what would be going, what you'd have to be going through to get there, I think of that sometimes in terms of immigration, with people trying to escape countries where they feel threatened for their lives. I mean I would find it difficult to get up and move to a city that's like half an hour away, for no apparent reason, just for convenience of less commute or something, right. And these people are willing to uproot their entire lives and families and sometimes walk just hundreds of miles to try and get to safety and the empathy, you'd have to be missing to not see that that's a desperate act. And there's something there we need to respond to.
Marty Nocchi 11:17
Yeah, think about how they feel isolated, and alone and disconnected. And they have had to give up everything along the way. To just toss people out, it's just, it's hard to imagine.
Cristina Amigoni 11:32
And they risk their lives and the lives of their children. And for them, it's not a choice you make lightly, that's not a choice you make, like: "Oh, I just want to try something out, see what happens. I just want to you know, and enter our country illegally, because well, that would be fine, if we can get away with it." That's not exactly the motivation of this, this is not exactly about stealing somebody else's job, or any of that, it's about survival. And getting to the point where there is no other option, except for me putting whatever I can in my backpack and get my kids and walk hundreds of miles or cross the sea, or whatever it is, in the hope that when we survive and make it to the other side, we can actually have a home.
Alex Cullimore 12:16
And sometimes it's more if then when. Hopefully you can survive if you can get through the journey.
Marty Nocchi 12:21
And I consider myself fortunate because I've had the opportunity to do several mission trips, I've been to Haiti twice, I've been El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, places where you don't go to travel for vacation, and I'm always amazed at how, and most I've often gone with high school students, where they feel like, they just kind of fall into who they are in this place of simplicity, where it's so different from the life that we live here. And we often go there with the mentality that we're going to fix their problems, because that that's what Americans do. And yet, these high school students, and myself as well, feel more human there than you ever do here.
Alex Cullimore 13:07
That's a really interesting way of putting it. I think on a microcosm, I felt pieces of that even just in the pandemic, you get certain aspects of life stripped away by the time it's down to feeling more bare minimum, which, again, there's no comparison here. So I'm not saying it's bare minimum, like people who may be struggling in Haiti or trying to get past Hurricane damage or anything like that. But once you get that stripped down, you really start to understand that it's an overused cliche, it starts to boil down to the small and important things, and what actually matters starts to come to the forefront.
Marty Nocchi 13:39
I remember being in Haiti. I was there once before the earthquakes and once afterwards, first of all, it's almost impossible to tell the difference, because it's such a devastating place to begin with. But I'll never forget going there. I think it was the first time I had gone and one of the students had pointed out, there was a woman sweeping outside her house. Now, there is we, as an American would say, "Why on earth would you be doing that"? And that's what the kid had said, like, what? Everything is filthy. And you're living on a dirt street. And yet here she is out there sweeping, sweeping off her step. But this is her space, she has respect for the space she has. This is hers. And she's treating it with care. It's just a very different mindset.
Cristina Amigoni 14:28
It's human dignity.
Marty Nocchi 14:31
Yeah. And dignity for the earth for her space.
Alex Cullimore 14:36
That's an interesting point, kind of the reciprocal nature of dignity that not only can you try and respect the dignity of yourself, but respecting the dignity of other people or the space that you're in. So that amplifies the overall effect.
Marty Nocchi 14:49
In this country, we are much more about the individual than we are about the collective. I mean, I don't need to tell the two of you that
Cristina Amigoni 14:59
Not with the name of our company.
Alex Cullimore 15:04
It's funny that we are about the individual, but we don't try and understand people as individuals. We are about our own personal individuality, and not accepting the individuality of others while we categorize and box them in other places, and even sometimes box ourselves.
Marty Nocchi 15:21
I was going back and forth with a friend of mine on Facebook yesterday, about politics, of course. And I made a comment about there's no one out there that cares about the debt that we are accruing as a country, which is astronomical, but we're doing that as individuals as well. And his response to me was, "well, that's not my problem." It is your problem, and it's my problem, and you're going to have kids one day, and it's going to be their problem. It's all of our problems.
Alex Cullimore 15:52
I was thinking that with taxes. People don't want to pay taxes, which okay, yeah, it can be frustrating. And it's certainly arguments to be made about where taxes could be spent. But taxes also go to things like roads, that's pretty important. I want the infrastructure for an ambulance to get to me, I want somebody to pay for that. And that's what the state to be able to support that, so that on the off chance I or somebody I know or frankly, somebody I don't know, needs it, it's gonna be there.
Cristina Amigoni 16:18
Can you imagine building roads based on who pays for taxes for them? So you paid for this stretch of the road so you can be on it and these other stretch, "Sorry you didn't want to pay for it? so you're on your own?"
Alex Cullimore 16:36
The gold cobblestones of the Upper East Side.
Cristina Amigoni 16:39
Yes, exactly. And healthcare is like that, if we're gonna get into the conversation, healthcare is a privilege in this country, which amazes me how health care can be a privilege. There's no right to be healthy.
Alex Cullimore 16:52
I love healthcare as an example, because that brings us back to one of our topics here, which is the idea of institutions slowly losing their purpose. I mean, if you think about health care, the title health care is to provide care for your health. You're there to give that and yet, especially in a American system, we do not have trust of health care. And it feels very complicated. And to Marty's point, it starts to feel like we have lost the point of the humans that it was there to take care of. We are now like a giant insurance conglomeration, there's an institution that is no longer serving its purpose so much as serving itself.
Marty Nocchi 17:27
Yeah, I mean, I will say I have a lot of people in my family, including my brother's an ER doctor and several nurses. And you would hear that from them as well. So it's not just us saying that. When I was in West Virginia, when I was on the farm there, we would go to this, I forget what kind of church it was, on Wednesday evening, we would take the kids over there. And I remember the one thing I was struck by there is so much mistrust. And it isn't even just mistrust with insurance or stuff like that. They don't trust doctors. There even the sense like even the doctor is off to get them, it's trying to take advantage of who they are. I get as a deep mistrust beyond government beyond all this other stuff. It is a mistrust of other people.
Cristina Amigoni 18:19
Where do you think it originates?
Marty Nocchi 18:22
If I have an answer to that, I'll say politics because we can blame everything on politics.
Cristina Amigoni 18:32
But politics are made by individuals. So where did you start?
Marty Nocchi 18:39
I'm thinking about, I had a friend who worked for a lobbying company in DC. He was doing an internship there. And after two months, he had to leave. He said, I could not work in that environment, because I felt like I was selling my soul every day.
Alex Cullimore 18:58
That's actually part of your story, you talk about at some point in towards the end of your journey with the ministry, you started to feel and this is just something we've talked about before it's not something you missed earlier on the podcast. You said you started to feel internally sick, you started to feel like this was affecting your physical being. And that's, I think, something we only sometimes connected to, the connection between our body and our emotions sometimes only becomes clear when it's something heavy enough that it starts to affect us to a noticeable level, even if that connection is always there.
Marty Nocchi 19:34
Yeah, I mean, I try to look at it two different ways, that disconnection from my own body. But I think when you start to look at it, how when you talk about where does this mistrust come, we start become disconnecting from the larger body of who we are as people. So I think it It shouldn't surprise us when we are disconnected from ourselves that we're also going to become disconnected from one another because we're losing that connection.
Alex Cullimore 20:03
So for you, when do you feel most connected to people? What helps you feel that connection? And I guess, conversely, when do you feel disconnected? And can you identify aspects that feel disconnecting?
Marty Nocchi 20:14
I have felt more connected with people since I've left ministry. Again, all this sounds ridiculous when it comes out of my mouth, comes out of my mouth
Cristina Amigoni 20:22
It doesn't to me, so you are good.
Marty Nocchi 20:28
I think what eventually did me in was, I felt like I was living two lives. And I almost felt like I had to live two lives to live that life. And I've had the chance to speak to other people who were in ministry, not only as Catholics, but other faiths. And they often leave for that very reason, because, and it isn't even all my fault that I feel like I'm living these two lives, it's because that's the position I'm put in, because of this role that I'm playing in the life of the community. It's hard to be authentic and genuine and yourself, because everyone is looking at you through this lens of this role that you're playing in the community. And so if you're, if you're not living up to the expectation of what that role is, it becomes very hard to be who you are.
Cristina Amigoni 21:17
Which parts of who you are authentically did you feel that you couldn't bring into your role?
Marty Nocchi 21:24
It depended on what community I was with? Obviously, I knew the community that I was working with. And you always know that politics is central to even in church. Church has politics, just like everything else. And how do you again, it's going to be that dignity thing, how to how do you speak the voice of people, when the expectation is you're you're representing this institution. And so those two things were often felt like they were in conflict with one another. And I don't even think the conflict is always necessarily bad. I think that's how we often grow, is in that space, that liminal space, a space in between those two things. It's just that, it was a constant fight with myself and a constant fight with the institution that I just, it's not my fight to fight, I can only be me.
Alex Cullimore 22:21
With something as large as religion, or a national political party, or something that becomes an institution that is very much defined in itself to the point where it's not just a workplace where you say, I work at x company, and then people say, "Oh, I haven't heard of that before". People have heard of the Catholic Church, people have heard of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, there's so many different interpretations at some point of the institution. And then there's also the self perpetuating cycle of feeling like you have to defend the institution, it becomes something alive in itself beyond what its purpose was.
Marty Nocchi 22:56
Correct, I mean, I don't think we should underestimate that. Both the big R and the Big D are religions in and of themselves. They are our national religions.
Alex Cullimore 23:08
It's a good interpretation of just the general idea of religion, it is a belief system, it can be a value system, it can be a group of people organized towards a goal. And we also see different sects within it. In religion, we can obviously see different branches of Catholicism, or Christianity, or any other religion all the way down to Seventh Day Adventists versus Episcopalian versus etc, etc, etc. And in the political parties we see, you know, everybody likes to call either centrist or more far right. Alt right, far left socialist, whichever subdivision you end up falling in. It's hard to write things with a large umbrella, it's hard to accept things with large umbrella.
Marty Nocchi 23:51
And and neither of them know God, even though they'll claim God in their own way. And I'm gonna write a post about I don't know if I'll write a blog, maybe I'll do a blog about it. But I was struck. So of course, we're doing this during an election week, there's no Election Day.
Cristina Amigoni 24:09
Election month soon.
Marty Nocchi 24:13
Correct, we're moving in that direction. But there is a photo that was out of Arizona, of voters. There were protesters out in Arizona as they're doing the ballot count. And their faces are smashed up against the window of where they're doing it. And so I clicked back to 2016 because I remember seeing some images after Hillary Clinton had lost and I've already put the two pictures together, so I know I'm doing the post at some point, that there is nothing different between these two groups of people. There is despair in both of them. That's all you have to do is look at these two photos next to one another. There is nothing different and yet for some reason, we can't see that there is no difference. There are people, and there is a sense of despair that they're looking for something, and no one is giving them what it is they think they're looking for.
Cristina Amigoni 25:12
Well, and that reminds me of something you brought up at the beginning, which is this when institutions lose their humanity or lose their focus on the human part. And it seems just like any other institutions, the political parties have done the same. They've lost the focus on what it is that they're supposed to be serving. And so it makes me wonder, at which point does that happen?
Marty Nocchi 25:37
Yeah, because they're much more concerned about their belief system, the system, rather than the people out there, and somehow they get people to buy into that. How do we get there? I don't know. I think the bigger question is, how do we get out of it?
Alex Cullimore 25:57
You could see these things in microcosms, I can feel it in my own life. And from your backstory, Marty, it definitely feels like this is relevant for you. And I know, Cristina, you went on a similar journey based on the workplace that we've shared, you can join a place, you might like the cause, you might like the work, you might like what you get to do day to day. And it's hard to internally know when that shift starts to change, until it becomes overwhelming. When it starts to feel like what you thought the institution was or what it has become since when you had started with it is no longer the same. And I don't know if all of us could articulate a piece of that. For me, I started to understand, at some point, that I was staying in institutions that I wasn't feeling as connected with because of the people that I was worried about that were also in the institution. And they they were expressing discontent, they were worried. And I felt like I wanted to stay with them. But it took a long time to realize that when I had joined I was there to go help this organization. And later on right before I was ready to really admit to myself I was going to leave, I wasn't there for the same reason, I was there for the the people of the institution that I felt were falling out. And that was definitely one thing that started to separate in my mind. But I don't know, for both of you guys. If you have internal flags, where you started to feel like "oh, there's something separate." And if you look back, would you be able to, if you found yourself in a similar position, find that disparity earlier and understand that disparity earlier?
Cristina Amigoni 27:34
I don't know about earlier, I do know that I have clear physical symptoms, which reminds me of what Marty said about him getting physically ill as well. When it's time to go when the brick is knocking my head over and the walls are coming down around me. The clear physical symptoms for me is I stop sleeping. I sleep very well most times and when night after night, after night, after night, I find myself waking up and not being able to fall back asleep, that's when I have to pause and figure out "Okay, what in my life is causing this?"
Marty Nocchi 28:12
Yeah, I would say very similar. I mean, for me, it was, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was getting to the point where I could barely function. And my own backstory, because I've almost drowned a few times, but I almost drowned whitewater rafting and so I have often felt my feeling while I'm drowning, that sense of not being able to breathe, that I could just pick up on that a little bit earlier, I might be better fit well.
Alex Cullimore 28:42
That's definitely something that becomes I think a practice, it's something we have to think about, over and over if we're going to try and understand that response. And I think the physical responses are definitely ones to go back to Brene' Brown, she talks about when she feels shame, or that she starts to feel that pit in her stomach, sweaty palms, whatever those physical attributes are. And those are definitely great things to start to catalog for ourselves. I think if we can remember "oh, I started to feel this way before what was causing that?" And that's why it's worth doing some of this investigation. In my opinion, it's worth doing some of the investigation of our own thoughts and whatever led us to that. And however that journey started to take place for us. If I think back on it, I think some of the signs for me might have been earlier than the physical signs, which I started to feel things similar to what you guys have described, you start to lose some sleep, you start to feel like there's more of a physical ailment. But before that, I was starting to pull away from people a little more, more than I would have before I was starting to feel much more defensive. I was not willing to open up, I was feeling on guard for lack of a better term in case there was blame to be coming around or in case suddenly there were rounds of things like layoffs, you don't know who's gonna be there still. You start to guard yourself from feelings of loss. And I think I did that more heavily than I needed to, I started to lose the connections there. But if I look back that was a through line for me that a red flag, maybe I would be able to see in the future if it started to happen again.
Marty Nocchi 30:15
Yeah, I do hope because I, I think it also happens so gradually. And I'm not saying that you can't, I'm just saying I think it happens so gradually, sometimes that it's hard to see it. Until I'm under the water already. .
Alex Cullimore 30:32
There's the the old metaphor of boiling the frog.
Marty Nocchi 30:37
I think it's probably more like that than not.
Cristina Amigoni 30:40
I think that one of the things I've learned, especially in the last couple of years is having clear values, non-negotiable values for myself and the system and the people that I spend my time with, and realizing that time is not granted and is finite. And so it's not one of those things that you would just say "well, that's okay for a few years, and then let's see what happens". Well, what if you don't have a few years, none of us are guaranteed that time. So being very clear about what those values are, and then being very clear about when they're being challenged. And having a plan when that happens. So for example, like something similar to what you both have provided is this connection or feeling I have to start being silent about what matters to me, or I have to be on guard, or, you know, something like my throat starts feeling like it's closed in certain situations, that's when those are the whispers of "Okay, this happened once. Okay, it's happening again, we need to monitor this, what values is being challenged? And is this going to become something habitual?"
Marty Nocchi 31:51
And I know for myself, I just spent my time moving around, I would start looking at this, hindsight is 2020, where my life would start to catch up with me. And then it was time to move, and then it would catch up to me and it's time to move. And I maybe if I try this, let me try this. Let me try this. Let me try that I I couldn't exhaust any more possibilities to try to make this work before, I still remember talking to my spiritual director right after I left, and I have known her for 10 years. And I said, I got sick, it was sickness, which eventually didn't end, she said, "I knew it would be your body that would eventually do it to you. She said "I knew you were finally forced to reckon with what was going on inside you."
Cristina Amigoni 32:41
Unfortunately, I think that's what happens to a lot of us.
Alex Cullimore 32:45
Yeah. And that reckoning is especially difficult, when you realize it's internal. When you realize at the end you're the one, the problems catch up with you, you move. The problems are there, because they're internal, they're a lot about how we're engaging with the world, what we're ignoring about what we can change versus accepting what we can't, it's very difficult to have that reckoning, when you start to realize it's coming internally, now all the work suddenly starts to feel like it's on you. And that can be something that is easy to turn away from.
Marty Nocchi 33:19
And then I think that's why we can never get to the point on the larger scale and this mess that we live, in this world we live in. Because most people do not know how to do internal work. And they're not taught how to do internal work. They don't understand internal work. We don't value internal work. And until we get to that point where at least a majority of people think that internal work is good. I don't know how we move forward.
Cristina Amigoni 33:47
It's ironic to me because you have to almost be focused on the individual and on the selfishness to do internal work, in order to be a better part of the WE, in order to then turn around and be "now I can help others, I can help the WE".
Alex Cullimore 34:05
And maybe that's something you can relate to Marty because you've had so many careers that are specifically there to help people, you had teaching which is definitely connecting, push, helping people develop, grow, understand things, you went to the Ministry for the connection to helping people. So there is so much an aspect of I feel like "I'm of service. I feel like I'm helping people." How do you get to the point of I need to put on my own mask first here on this airplane?
Marty Nocchi 34:34
That's one of Brene' Brown's point as well in Dare To Lead. And most of it has been, "oh my gosh, I wasn't taking care of myself. Like I was worried about putting the mask on someone else all along." And because I think we're also conditioned in that way. And an individualistic, we still have some sense that we have to take care of that other person first, because we're told that's important. We kind of live in this dynamic insanity, sometimes.
Alex Cullimore 35:02
That's a really funny aspect too, we've got this individuality that we like to prize. And then we almost have to have it as a point of pride that I am so projecting confidence in my own self care that I don't actually have to do self care. Of course, I'm helping you with your mask first.
Cristina Amigoni 35:19
And then at some point, if I put the mask on myself, I have to stop putting a mask on myself. Where's the line of "now it's time for you, not me?"
Marty Nocchi 35:29
Yeah, I don't know why we do what we do.
Alex Cullimore 35:33
That's another question that if we could answer that, retire.
Marty Nocchi 35:37
I will tie just back to something else here. When we are talking about how did we get here as a country even, I have my own theory on it. And I still think there's lots of dynamics, generations are changing. But I still think the psyche of America was shattered on 911. Like we had this idea that we were invincible, that no one could touch us. We're the best, we're the greatest, and it was shattered. And so there's this level of trauma that exists on a national level as well. But we're at this point where now, millennials and Gen Z, I guess is after them, are now the majority. And so it's clashing, who never lived, really can't recollect as adult what that experience was like, they're living into our trauma, us who are over, of what we're all about. And I think that some of that, I still think that's some of the idea of Make America Great Again. Can we recapture this invincible idea, which isn't real in the first place?
Cristina Amigoni 36:50
Should we? Is my question.
Marty Nocchi 36:53
Right. Because it never really existed in the first places. It's an illusion.
Alex Cullimore 36:59
Isn't that the definition of nostalgia? Or maybe it wasn't? I think it's nostalgia. They talk about it's memories of a past, it never really was. It's become so idealized in our minds, or in thoughts of what it was, regardless of the fact that almost inevitably, it never was that correct. We have so much to try and recapture that feeling of comfort, and safety we are reaching back for it without it existing in the first place.
Marty Nocchi 37:25
And for younger people, it's like, what the heck are you doing? And so I think that's the bigger, I think it's really a generational clash that's going on. That's not to say that there aren't younger people that fall into that category, because there's also a lot here in northeast Pennsylvania. There's a lot of people that never leave here. They only know what they know, here, where there is kind of this nostalgia, I mean, I could talk to people I went to high school with here. And it feels like they still live in 1990 when they graduated high school. It's a weird experience.
Alex Cullimore 38:03
That's an interesting dichotomy of generations, there's the: do you have hope for the future? And what we can change and become? Or do you have hope that is rooted in the past and what you think was?
Marty Nocchi 38:15
And I think both of those things are a reality for people in this country.
Alex Cullimore 38:20
That's where generational it comes into. Because to your point, there definitely is some national trauma, especially after 911, there was a feeling of fear, and it kind of divided this. And I think we didn't really know what to do with it. And to your point earlier, there's not a lot of teachings on internal work, that's only become somewhat more popular in the last couple of years. And it definitely wasn't there before. So generationally, if you lived a decade, two decades and majority of your life before 911, and you have all these memories of what was, what could have been, what maybe in your mind should have been, should be still, it's hard not to take that. Whereas if you have Gen Z, who has grown up in a world that was only post 911, only economic crises, whatever else we had, now a pandemic, everything we've done.
Marty Nocchi 39:09
Who grew up in no certainty.
Alex Cullimore 39:12
You can only have hope in the future at that point, because the present is, has always been, difficult.
Marty Nocchi 39:17
It's horrible. But but that's the meeting point. It's horrible. I hate to say that, but I go back to those two pictures. There's this level of despair on both sides. And can you speak about the despair that you're feeling? Because that's the human connection?
Alex Cullimore 39:40
I don't think that's horrible to say at all, because that is a wonderful framework for it. If we can understand that, just like we're feeling pain, somebody that we would consider on the other side of the political aisle or someone that we would consider outside of our institution organization, a competitor, adversary. Yes. If we can see, like seeing them. And again, the antidote starts to feel like it's empathy, if we can see in them the pain that we know that we feel, it's a little easier to connect to say, I understand that. From my experience, it feels like you're reacting from fear. And I want to understand that fear, rather than being dismissive, throwing it out saying "No I wouldn't be afraid of that. So it's ridiculous that you are."
Marty Nocchi 40:25
And I'm thinking, as I was listening to you speak in my experience of me being back up here in Pennsylvania, I was in Maryland, which is a very different experience, there's often conversation. How long do do I as a white person have to be held accountable for someone else's pain? And that comes up in the election cycle as well. But I think to myself, you here are actually experiencing the exact same thing in a different way. Because you're trapped in this past that you had no control over that was not yours to be defined. And yet, here you are, and they exist. So there is another meeting point for people.
Alex Cullimore 41:08
That's another interesting future. First past dichotomy, we're connected to what was in that moment, and kind of hamstrung by it almost more rather than having hope for the past that felt more hopeful, it's more having almost despair for the past that feels equally unchangeable, but still there and running part of our life.
Marty Nocchi 41:29
And of course, the tactic used by politics is to call someone a racist. Well, that only inflames the person here because they don't think they are. But the experience is exactly the same. You're just different people. And from a different perspective, you're being used by politics to divide yourselves. I've always said that, after living in West Virginia, especially, there a way to bring people who are poor in rural parts of America, together with people who are poor in urban areas, if you pull those people together, the system will undo itself. Because at the moment, politics divides the two of you, but your experience is exactly the same.
Alex Cullimore 42:17
That's one thing where we can talk about social media spreading lots of different disinformation and having lots of difficulty with how quickly that information can spread. But one great piece about it is that we share stories, far and wide. Now, things like George Floyd that made an impact across a large section of Ohio, I was listening recently to a research study that was done on that, and people could connect to that moment, people who had lived in predominantly white suburbs hadn't really had any experience with this, maybe we're on board with the notions that have been pushed around that your suburb should be kept separated, and more "safe". But now we have things like social media, where we can immediately connect to very, very graphic human stories of pain and understand that is an experience someone else has. That's one of, in my mind, the benefits of social media for as difficult as it can be to understand and for as toxic as it can sometimes feel. Being able to share stories that help people connect to other people's experiences and struggles is one of the strong suits.
Marty Nocchi 43:20
Yeah, when you're talking about city and suburb, I lived on the city line of Baltimore, between Baltimore and Baltimore County. And in the late 60s, people fled the city, of course, there was a lot of violence at that point in the city. And so lots of people fled, which they'll call themselves, the suburbs, but they're really like, an appendage of the city at this point. There's really no separation. But there are people in the county even there today that won't cross that line into the city because they're afraid of the city. But you're also holding these people accountable again, for something that happened 15 years ago, at this point, you're talking about people who weren't even alive with them. And yet, you're still holding them accountable for something they don't even know about. They don't even know that they're being held accountable for it.
Alex Cullimore 44:13
And that can be a powerful narrative to just totally derail the movement towards any kind of more unity or healing can be when people start to publicly say: "Well, I wasn't alive for that I'm not responsible for this." There's, I think two parts to that we can immediately put up a barrier in our heads to say, "now I'm distanced from that I don't have to own this problem." But we also then lose the chance to understand the vestiges of whatever happened there and how that runs in our current society and how we may either benefit or be harmed by those ongoing systemic issues that started there. Things like, if you think about slavery, there's still vast economic disparities and we will we always call them socio economic issues, but can divide a lot on issues of race. And yes, I wasn't alive for slavery. But I still benefit from a system which has this level of separation. And I can't turn away from that just by saying I wasn't alive then.
Marty Nocchi 45:13
Well, it's similar to what we were saying about: "Can I recognize earlier in a place where I no longer should be?" Alright, you're drowning, drowning, drowning, but you don't necessarily see. And in situations where we're benefiting from a system, it is very hard to see that you can't just tell someone, you're benefiting from the system. Because if you create defense, they're going to defend, it's going to be going ego driven. The language we use has become exhausted and it no longer serves us. And can we come up with more creative ways to say, here's the problem? Because the way we have described the problems no longer work, because they too have been hijacked by political systems in order to divide.
Alex Cullimore 45:59
That's a fascinating theme that's coming back over and over is that the messaging keeps dividing us, we get to a point where we we accept whatever frame has been continually told to us, and we've lost the issue at hand.
Marty Nocchi 46:12
It's all messaging. I was thinking of this before we got on the call today. We've lost context. And we go by message. And we've lost our larger, as a priest, we've become disconnected from the scripture from the larger story of who we are as a salvation history. And we've become disconnected from our own story as who we are as a country.
Alex Cullimore 46:39
That's a fascinating point of how I think we can all feel some amount of separation from various aspects of our life and start to feel when things got away. And it's easy to feel nostalgia, and almost not work on things beyond a certain point, because of that. You've had so many experiences of separating from large institutions? Do you still find yourself hopeful? And do you think there are ways to have institutions that would be able to maintain that humanity? Or do you can you think of strategies, perhaps that you would want to see implemented or just tested that would help maintain that original goal you have in the ministry, help maintain that feeling of service in an organization, help guide back to the core values that started this in the first place rather than an institution perpetuating itself to keep itself alive?
Marty Nocchi 47:28
Yeah, as a institution like the Catholic Church, the best message of hope has been Pope Francis, I believe. And the argument always is, well, the church was founded by Christ, was founded by Jesus. You're right, and if there were no people involved, you are correct. But we're dealing with sick people in a sick institution, that doesn't take away the fact that it was founded by Christ. But you got to clean up the people who are running the institution, because they're making it sick.
Alex Cullimore 48:01
And we've seen things in history, like the reformation, where Luther splits off the entire church, says this is no longer the values, I'm going to start my own organization that has these values. And of course, we carry that on a few centuries, when we've seen similar issues start to pop up and Lutheranism, they're now protecting themselves in certain ways. It's a whole institution in itself.
Marty Nocchi 48:19
So they become an individual in and of themselves. I mean, it comes back to that individualistic mentality: "we don't like that, so we're gonna break off and be our own". Because it gets rid of the tension, even though you're going to create it yourself, the tension between what we can be and who we are, we just want to get rid of the pain, get rid of the suffering, that that tool is very much a part of who we are avoiding the inevitable.
Cristina Amigoni 48:47
It is and that's the disconnection that you mentioned at the beginning, it's trying to find that connection of "how can we just be ourselves as opposed to figure out who we're supposed to be in whatever situation?"
Marty Nocchi 48:59
I still remember the first time when I went to the farm in April of 2019. It was months and months, and probably almost a year before I turned on the news. I went an entire year without watching the news. And the first time I turned it on, I'm like, "oh, my gosh, this is awful. It was awful." I get on it. You don't know how to ask questions. You're not even looking for answers you have this script that you need to get through. And it's not about what is the actual event that is going on. If people just turned all that stuff off for a while, they would be a whole lot better.
Alex Cullimore 49:34
Agreed. It's true. I felt that personally this week while refreshing election results 7000 times, give myself a break.
Marty Nocchi 49:42
This time, it's going to be different.
Alex Cullimore 49:47
That is not a metaphor for seeking reassurance, almost useless acts. I don't know what it is.
Marty Nocchi 49:54
But we do it.
Cristina Amigoni 49:56
That's why I've been offline with the news this week. And I've told Alex and a few other people, just text me when I need to know something that I need to know. Otherwise, I'm just gonna go about my day and just continue to live.
Marty Nocchi 50:09
What do you know, I just pull it up and it was declared that Biden won
Cristina Amigoni 50:13
Alex Cullimore 50:13
He just won Pennsylvania
Marty Nocchi 50:14
Yep, I just brought it up.
Alex Cullimore 50:18
You are hearing it live here, people we just found out.
Cristina Amigoni 50:21
That must be the three text messages that I see on the screen that I haven't been able to read.
Marty Nocchi 50:27
Yeah, my phone kept buzzing here.
Alex Cullimore 50:32
Well, that's very distracting on it of itself. So that's a big moment.
Marty Nocchi 50:40
The continuation will be it doesn't solve the problem. It doesn't solve the problem that exists. Thinking of that mindset of these religions, or these political parties being religions, we elect people that think are going to save us. That's the despair in those Trump voters standing against the gas. They're the Hillary Clinton supporters in despair, because we think this person is going to save us from ourselves.
Cristina Amigoni 51:09
Well, it's interesting that you say that, because as we had been waiting for the results of the election, after the first night of not sleeping, on Tuesday night, I woke up and I realized, wait, it doesn't really matter. I mean, it does. But it doesn't really matter who wins or who loses, because I'm still going to live my life the way I want to live it, I'm still gonna do what I can to save the environment, I'm still gonna focus on helping others and in companies and institutions on bringing humanity into what they do, I'm still going to care for people, I'm still going to do whatever it is that I believe I need to do as a human being, regardless of who's on top of the political throne at this point.
Marty Nocchi 51:55
That's the incentive, how much does it really affect your life? Not a whole lot. Not I mean, I think there should be some sense of dignity to the office. I think that back to the word dignity, I think the office deserves dignity because of who you are. And you're representing me to the rest of the world. And I should have a say as to who's doing, we all have a say as to who that person is going to be. But I know my post on LinkedIn today was, if your life is about winning and losing, you're not living life.
Cristina Amigoni 52:29
Marty Nocchi 52:30
Alex Cullimore 52:32
That's one thing, I can look back and be thankful for, A) because as of 20 seconds ago, we know the results, but on Tuesday night, when we started to feel like things were going to be very vague or maybe this wasn't going to go the way we had hoped. It was a moment to reflect and be like, "well, what am I gonna do going forward?" And in that moment, you find exactly what you guys are talking about, you find, "well, it's not really gonna change how I live this, I might feel if anything, like it's more urgent to go out and try and reconnect humanity and feel like I want to live with those values." And that's when it started to connect that this is not as important, and I still, of course, obsessively refreshed the election results for the next week. However, I had reconnected at some points to a purpose, and it gave me the hope to a go rally people who also felt down or worried or discouraged just to say, "hey, you know, a, there may be encouraging signs on politics or not, but regardless, our job is the same, the work is definitely not done regardless of the election turnout, there's so much to do to go reconnect humanity, to start to heal that despair to your point, Marty. On both sides, there's despair, there's worry, that work has not changed. It was the same four years ago, it's gonna be the same in four years.
Marty Nocchi 53:45
Because that's reality. Yes, that's the reality. You can only deal with reality.
Cristina Amigoni 53:52
Well, and it's gonna be the work that we do every day. Like when we talk about authenticity, it's not a one and done. It's not a medal you get at the end of the race. It's every day, every day you have to choose to connect as a human, everyday, you have to choose to look at people as humans.
Marty Nocchi 54:08
Politically speaking, I think the President is the head of state. It's supposed to be Congress that does legislation, that makes laws and it's often been, they're the ones forfeiting their power more often than not to court sent to the President. But for me, it comes down to dignity once again, who can empathize with humanity? The current president, I don't know who's listening to your podcast, does not have the ability to empathize. You can't argue that. But I think the only way that you could begin to bring people together is if you empathize with their story.
Alex Cullimore 54:45
I totally agree. And that I think is the through line that we've discovered in this conversation is that regardless of where we're going, and how we are interacting with people, the best antidote for figuring out what we need to do is empathy, dignity, it's respecting the other person and understanding what they're going through and trying to see that at a human level, not at the argument level, not at the political level. In all the examples we've come up with abortion, if we see this with empathy, rather than seeing this as the talking points we've been told, which again, also goes back to the messaging. So maybe one thing that I would definitely love to focus on in my future would be how to message the important pieces that we know are important how to message that we need to treat humanity as humanity, to connect with humans. And that's one of the reasons that Cristina wanted to do this podcast in the first place. That's why we started a company to do human based work. And it feels important, and it feels like empathy can be such an antidote for so much of this, to understand somebody's pain to understand our own pain, and fear. It's beyond important.
Marty Nocchi 55:51
It's necessary. It's vital.
Cristina Amigoni 55:55
It is vital. And so you guys know my messenger tickers looking like CNN right now. It keeps going.
Alex Cullimore 56:02
I am exploding here.
Cristina Amigoni 56:04
Exactly, it's really interesting. Everything else is on Do Not Disturb. So all I see is numbers go up. But this was a wonderful conversation, and I'm sure we could keep talking about it for hours and hours and weeks and weeks on end just as you know, just probably longer than how it's taken to count votes for this election.
Marty Nocchi 56:27
Yeah, we'll have to do it again sometime.
Alex Cullimore 56:29
Marty Nocchi, I'm sorry. Said it like the food Marty Nocchi. I am really excited we got to have you on, you're definitely gonna be a recurring guest here. There's more we have to uncover and talk about here. But one thing we I do want to say first of all, I did say that like the food because for everybody listening who would like to find Marty, his last name is spelled like the food without the G just NOCCHI, Marty Nocchi. And it's my favorite food.
Cristina Amigoni 56:57
It is actually a family tradition.
Marty Nocchi 57:00
I will tell you, it's a whole lot better in Italy than it is here.
Cristina Amigoni 57:03
Yeah, well, if we ever meet in person, we'll have to make sure that I make that for you, Marty and Alex and whoever comes over. It's my family tradition.
Marty Nocchi 57:12
Homemade is much better than at a store or a restaurant.
Cristina Amigoni 57:16
It is. I can't eat anybody's gnocchi except for my family's.
Alex Cullimore 57:22
That's Cristina's authenticity, Italian food as based in Italian.
Marty Nocchi 57:26
If you get it in a restaurant, it like crawls in your stomach like a cinderblock.
Cristina Amigoni 57:31
Yeah, it's like rubber.
Alex Cullimore 57:33
So Marty, one way we like to wrap up with guests is ask them what authenticity means to you. And I think we have some more idea of that. But if you have just some thoughts on what authenticity means to you,
Marty Nocchi 57:47
As I'm sitting here, thinking about that, and thinking about our conversation, I think it comes back to the beginning where you're most authentic, when you're aligned with yourself. When you're aligned with your values, when you're aligned with your purpose when you're aligned with who you are as a person. I mean, I joked with you guys before we began, my birthday being on April Fool's Day, and at some point, you have to be able to accept all these aspects of your life, that this is who I am. And the more you're aligned with that, both in body mind and spirit, then that's where you reach that authenticity.
Alex Cullimore 58:26
I love that the idea that it's not about compartmentalizing, it's about connecting the compartments.
Cristina Amigoni 58:33
I've too often heard people say, "you know, in my heart, I want to do things that way. But I'm not able to really". Well, you are, you're making a choice not to.
Marty Nocchi 58:42
Correct. It might not be aligned yet with everything else. Exactly, but if it's in your heart, get it aligned.
Cristina Amigoni 58:51
Get it aligned. Well, thank you, Marty. This was wonderful.
Alex Cullimore 58:54
Marty, thank you so much for joining.
Marty Nocchi 58:55
Thank you. It was wonderful talking to the two of you.
Alex Cullimore 58:58
I think we have a lot more conversations ahead of us both on the podcast and outside of it.
Marty Nocchi 59:03
Now we were able to announce the election first.
Alex Cullimore 59:07
Yeah, if this was live, we would be the first.
Marty Nocchi 59:11
The first podcast to announce it.
Cristina Amigoni 59:14
Four weeks from now when this podcast goes live, people will know what happened to the elections.
Marty Nocchi 59:21
Or we might still be fighting about it.
Cristina Amigoni 59:24
I don't have any doubt about that, actually.
Marty Nocchi 59:28
So thank you. Yeah, it was great talking with you.
Alex Cullimore 59:30
Thank you so much, Marty. And thank you, everybody listening, we are thrilled to be a little bit past the anticipation period on the election, but also just so excited to have this conversation. I think it helps reinforce for me just how important empathy is for us as humans and as organizations and institutions. And I really love doing this work for that reason. Getting back to that and Marty, it's been wonderful talking to you about it.
Marty Nocchi 59:53
Same to you guys.
Cristina Amigoni 59:54
Thank you, everybody. And as Alex said, I think the path to empathy is to listen, have these conversations, understanding what somebody else's life went through?
Marty Nocchi 1:00:04
Yep. Listen, listen, listen.
Alex Cullimore 1:00:06
Thank you, everybody.
Cristina Amigoni 1:00:09
Thank you for listening to Uncover The Human, a Siamo podcast.
Alex Cullimore 1:00:13
Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard Jake Lara and our score creator Raechel Sherwood.
Cristina Amigoni 1:00:18
If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.
Alex Cullimore 1:00:26
We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at email@example.com or on our website wearesiamo.com, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook.
Cristina Amigoni 1:00:45
Until next time, listen to yourself. Listen to others and always uncover the human.
Lead Writer | Online Content Designer | Blogger
Marty is an influencer without always knowing he is an influencer! He spent nearly 20 years of his adult life in ministry in the Catholic Church and left it behind nearly 2 years ago now.
After spending a year living and working on an organic farm, he moved back to PA, with his family, as the pandemic was shutting our lives down. He has spent the time since seeking a network of people while discerning next steps in life. He loves to learn and understand where curiosity and dignity stand as core values of his.
Marty can be reached on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/martinnocchi/.