As Surgeon General of the United States, serving previously under Barack Obama and currently under President Biden, Dr. Vivek Murthy has had to navigate a host of public health emergencies: Ebola, Zika, the opioid epidemic, the Flint water crisis, and now, of course, the pandemic. Yet throughout both of his terms, Dr. Murthy—who is still just 44—has presented not the hardened exterior of someone worn down by catastrophe, but the measured, sympathetic bedside manner of a doctor deeply concerned with his holistic approach to our country’s well-being. He has spoken out about the mental health crisis among young people; he wrote a book titled Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World; and on a podcast episode last December, he recited the first five lines of a Mary Oliver poem from memory before asking how we can “tip the scales in the world away from fear and toward love.” Those expansive ideas about wellbeing have signaled a refreshingly modern approach to the office of surgeon general, but they are coming at a time when our nation remains as divided as ever on fundamental issues of physical health. How can we move our country toward a deeper understanding of wellness when we can’t even agree on masks, vaccines, and whether the coronavirus is real? We called up Dr. Murthy to ask.