April 30, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Please let us again express our appreciation to all of you who took part in our Practicing Democracy Survey. Hannah Zuckerberg, a Pitzer College student who is just finishing her field placement with S&P for her "Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy" course, put together this report of what we learned from your input about your hopes, fears, needs, and ideas. The general sense of urgency expressed about people coming together to create strong communities and to work towards democracy helped reconfirm the importance of the Project. This quote from a survey participant reflects what is at stake for all of us who want to see democracy thrive:

"I came from Cuba to the United States at the age of 12, as a political refugee. My parents left everything they had, everything they knew for the hope of freedom, the hope that my brothers and I would grow up in a democracy. I am 68 years old now and that hope of freedom, hope of democracy, is the one that I continue to hold for my children, my grandchildren, and for all human beings. My hopes for American democracy at this dangerous moment that we are living in is that we wake up and work to ensure democracy survives." 

One thing that will make that survival possible is facing the enemies within ourselves and learning to use kindness, hospitality, openness, and compassion in our relationships with external enemies. You will find links below to our new topic on Enemies and other new content for the Project. 
Salaam, Shalom, Shanti, Peace,

The Practicing Democracy Project Team

Topic: Enemies
"All over the world, everybody always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever," writes Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart. Every day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, 'Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?' Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, 'Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?' " 

The spiritual practices, articles, blogs, book excerpts and recommendations, film reviews, poems, prayers, quotes, teaching stories, and related material in our new topic on "Enemies" encourage the practice of peace -- not only for external conflicts but also with inner enemies like arrogance, fear, and ingratitude. Here is a sampling of this content.

Articles about Enemies  
These articles explore conundrums like: Can we love our enemies and yet proceed to kill them? How do we learn to work with enemies when, in order to avoid treachery, we must not work with them? In battle, how can we leave room for reconciliation and redemption?

Books about Enemies
Learn radical forgiveness. Expand love. Celebrate our connections. Help reclaim the soul of a nation. These books carry a big vision and the practical help to make it manifest.

Enemies in the Movies
From Amigo and Amish Grace to The White Ribbon and Zero Days, these feature films and documentaries tell of anguish, self-doubt, and vengefulness but also forgiveness, creativity, compassion, and the overcoming of barriers.

Poetry about Enemies  
Williams Stafford erects a poetic monument for the unknown good in our enemies, and Stephen Levine reminds us that if we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive anyone.

Quotations for Understanding Enemies
We hope this varied selection of quotes brings you closer to that great peace to which those of sound mind and heart aspire, as you look within yourself to where the roots of all enmity - and all peace - begin.

Spiritual Practices for Responding to Enemies
Chronic difficult encounters. A blessing for an aggravating moment. Seeing through God's prism. Welcoming the stranger. Here you will find a range of spiritual practices to help with a multitude of challenging situations.

Teaching Stories
These three true stories from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition show how far spiritual practice -- especially that of compassion -- can carry us even when we are confronted by outright torment. 
Practicing Democracy Teachers
With the help of our Practicing Democracy Project fellows, we have been steadily adding to our list of Democracy Teachers and Mentors. Check this section for our latest additions: Amy Goodman, Dolores Huerta, Michael Moore, John Muir, and Edward R. Murrow. 

The Practicing Democracy Project is a collaboration between The Center for Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute. Seek more at PracticingDemocracy.net