Political polarization has become a national crisis that begs to be addressed in more lasting and substantial ways than we can do in what we commonly understand as "civil discourse". We have tasted how daunting it is to listen respectfully to opposing views and to search for mutual understanding. But we can't remain daunted. We need deep healing of the divides that are keeping us from doing what we must for our common good and well-being. The Metta Center for Nonviolence produced a
which ostensibly is an "open letter to Bernie Sanders' supporters". However, the message calls ALL of us, no matter where we are on the political spectrum, to deep creative work together. I hope you will take a moment to
view the video
. It is in the spirit of its message that I offer the resources below.
Parker Palmer's Healing the Heart of Democracy - the Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
reminds us of the "heart of the matter". In his own words: "For those of us who want to see democracy survive and thrive - and we are legion - the heart is where everything begins: that
grounded place in each of us where we can overcome fear, rediscover that we are members of one another, and embrace the conflicts that threaten democracy as openings to new life for us and for our nation." This book is both inspiring and practical. Palmer names the "habits of the heart" we need to revitalize our politics and shows how we can form them in our everyday lives. His chapters are chock-full of ways to develop and live out these habits:
* "We must understand that we are all in this together.
* We must develop an appreciation of the value of 'otherness'.
* We must cultivate the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
* We must generate a sense of personal voice and agency.
* We must strengthen our capacity to create community."
Mark Gerzon Is author of The Reunited States of America
. Through the Shift Network, he is offering a 7-week online course on
Healing Our Political Divides
Beginning on September 8
, this course is about reuniting and strengthening our families, communities and country. Each class is 90 minutes. Tapes of the classes are available for participants. You can register for the course by clicking on
. Gerzon will delve into skills and practices needed to bridge and heal political and personal divides, including:
* "valuing relationships over 'being right'
* thinking critically about your own positions
* staying open to differences so you can enrich your own view
* willingness to work through differences with civility and
Gerzon has facilitated retreats for members of Congress and has a long and distinguished history of work on transpartisanship. The principles and skills he teaches are valuable for any facet of our lives. You can get a flavor by viewing this short clip:
What Politics Can Learn from Sports with Mark Gerzon
Sacred America, Sacred World is authored by Stephen Dinan
, CEO of the Shift Network. I've only begun to read this book, but I've read enough to experience the reality of its description on the book's cover: ". . . a visionary work . . . inspires hope that America can grow beyond its current challenges . . . by returning to the sacred principles cherished by America's forefathers, we can create a transpartisan, pragmatic approach to social reform and national reconciliation that goes beyond left and right. In so doing, we can evolve beyond America's polarized political landscape and address urgent environmental, political, and economic issues as unified people
. . . filled with innovative strategies . . ."
Any of these books would make wonderful, safe, transpartisan material for a book club, study group, or education program. I always say that a hallmark of a fearless conversation is the discovery of something (eg.a solution or an idea) that no one brought to the conversation. The discovery emerges out of the conversation. May our current political crisis open up fearless conversations among us to rediscover the power of our inherent goodness.