The question for each of us is: How will I engage and not evade the tensions of competing ideas and seemingly polarized positions? Palmer suggests developing habits of the heart. The first of his five habits states, “We must understand that we are all in this together.”
One way to engage this habit is to practice kindness with all whom we meet. We express kindness, one of the Fundamentals of Forgiveness, when we look people in the eye and acknowledge them, when we use common courtesies such as saying “please” and “thank you,” and when we accept small slights not as personal attacks but as evidence of a deeper hurt.
Practicing kindness acknowledges and expresses our equality, recognizing that each of us is worthy of the same measure of respect and consideration and that “we’re all in this together.”
The remaining debates, ads, and opinion blogs will not change many minds. The upcoming election will not resolve most matters. After the placards are pulled down, the tension – the life energy of democracy – will remain. Encourage it. Engage it. Celebrate it.
Deep in all of us is the instinct that being connected to one another is happier, healthier, and safer than living in isolation. Parker Palmer
In this brief video, Parker Palmer speaks of holding the tension of individuation and relationship (watch video).