Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer sat down with journalist Chris Hedges on Monday for an intimate, salon-style conversation in Los Angeles. They discussed everything from religion and social control to war and police brutality.

First, Hedges explained how his father influenced his participation in reform efforts by encouraging him to begin an LGBT activist group at his conservative college campus. “I never thought that you were rewarded for virtue,” Hedges said of the negative response he received. “I never thought that [by] taking a moral stance, you would be promoted, even by the institutions you worked for.”

Scheer discussed his own background in journalism and explained how it relates to the current election. Hedges shared a bit more of his personal story, explaining how he worked as a minister and once aspired to become a police officer. “What is it with you and authority?” Scheer asked Hedges at one point.

The conversation eventually turned to modern instances of social control, with Hedges ruminating on the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, the court system and former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Finally, Hedges explained how his personal relationships tie in with his philosophy on activism. “I think that, as a writer, for me, the only way to maintain, not just integrity, but passion, is to build close relationships with the oppressed,” he said, citing his work in the prison system. “Because when I walk out of that prison, I can’t betray them. I can’t go back to Princeton and just forget it.”

Below is a video compilation of several moments from the salon. Read more about Scheer and Hedges’ conversation here.

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