Healing the Heart of DemocracyThe Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
Hope for American democracy in an era of deep divisions In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker J. Palmer quickens our instinct to seek the common good and gives us the tools to do it. This timely, courageous and practical work—intensely personal as well as political—is not about them, "those people" in Washington D.C., or in our state capitals, on whom we blame our political problems. It's about us, "We the People," and what we can do in everyday settings like families, neighborhoods, classrooms, congregations and workplaces to resist divide-and-conquer politics and restore a government "of the people, by the people, for the people." In the same compelling, inspiring prose that has made him a bestselling author, Palmer explores five "habits of the heart" that can help us restore democracy's foundations as we nurture them in ourselves and each other: An understanding that we are all in this together An appreciation of the value of "otherness" An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways A sense of personal voice and agency A capacity to create community Healing the Heart of Democracy is an eloquent and empowering call for "We the People" to reclaim our democracy. The online journal Democracy & Education called it "one of the most important books of the early 21st Century." And Publishers Weekly, in a Starred Review, said "This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience that will benefit from discussing it."
Introduction to the Paperback Edition xvii Prelude The Politics of the Brokenhearted 1 Chapter i Democracy’s Ecosystem 11 Chapter ii Confessions of an Accidental Citizen 29 Chapter iii The Heart of Politics 49 Chapter iv The Loom of Democracy 69 Chapter v Life in the Company of Strangers 89 Chapter vi Classrooms and Congregations 119 Chapter vii Safe Space for Deep Democracy 151 Chapter viii The Unwritten History of the Heart 175 Gratitudes 195 Notes 199 The author 219 Index 221 Healing the Heart of Democracy Discussion Guide 237
"He bravely takes on the current political climate, and this book provides therapy for the American body politic. His insights are heart-deep: America gains by living with tension and differences; we can help reclaim public life by actions as simple as walking down the street instead of driving. Hope's hardly cheap, but history is made up of what Palmer calls 'a million invisible acts of courage and the incremental gains that came with them.' This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience that will benefit from discussing it." —(A "Starred Review" from Publishers Weekly, 8 August 2011) “Healing the Heart of Democracy is a hopeful book that lifts up and hallows the heart as a source of inner sight. Inspired by the efforts to understand and undergird democracy by Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville, Rosa Parks, and others; the author sends us on our way rejoicing with the small portion of hope that he has planted in our minds and souls.” —(Spirituality & Practice) “There is a deep and disturbing cloud hanging over the United States. It is a malaise that is leading to cynicism and self-centeredness. The antidote is to be found in the healing of the heart of our democracy, so that we might emerge from this private focus to a public one, which recognizes our interdependence. I know of no better guide to discerning the problem and the solutions, than this book by Parker Palmer. It is a prophetic book, one that needs to be taken with all due seriousness, if we are to emerge from our malaise stronger and healthier than before.” —(Englewood Review of Books , 2011)
PARKER J. PALMER, whose books have sold over a million copies, holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and eleven honorary doctorates. In 2011, the Utne Reader named him one of twenty-five “People Who Are Changing Your World.” He is Founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal.
A book of hope for “We the People” In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker J. Palmer quickens our instinct to seek the common good, proposing practical ways to bridge our political divides. In this intensely personal as well as political book, Palmer explores five “habits of the heart” that can be developed in everyday settings like families, neighborhoods, classrooms, congregations and workplaces to help restore a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”: An understanding that we are all in this together An appreciation of the value of “otherness” An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways A sense of personal voice and agency A capacity to create community This book—enriched by a Discussion Guide and online video interviews with the author—is an eloquent and empowering call for “We the People” to reclaim our unity in an era of divide and conquer politics. Democracy & Education called it “one of the most important books of the early 21st Century.” Publishers Weekly, in a Starred Review, said “This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience that will benefit from discussing it.” “We have been trying to bridge the great divides in this great country for a long time. Parker J. Palmer urges us to ‘keep on walking, keep on talking’—just as we did in the civil rights movement—until we cross those bridges together.” —U.S. Congressman John Lewis, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom