Palmer names five inventions that help us convert tension into life-giving energy: Language opens us to discourse; Art gives us a visceral experience of empathetic encounter; Religion guides us in a meaningful life despite the certainty of death; Education teaches us to hold contradictions reflectively rather than reactively; and Democracy provides political structures to build an interdependent life in community.
Palmer encourages us to cultivate the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways. “Cultivate” means we need to work on it…plant the seed, weed it, water it, and nurture its growth. This is our challenge: to pluck the pearl of life out of the rattling stones of demagoguery.
Tension is a sign of life, and the end of tension is a sign of death. Parker Palmer
In this brief video, Parker Palmer explores how we can live within the tension of what is and what could be (watch video).