A Literary Spirit

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Healing the Heart of Democracy

By Parker Palmer

Review: I’d like to think of myself as an optimist.  I try to embrace change in my own life and have chosen a profession in which I help homeless youth to transform their lives for the better.  I practice positive parenting.  I try to be a kind and helpful neighbor.  But the one area where I can’t summon an ounce of hope is politics.  I’ve  eschewed political coverage from my home and refused to engage in political discussions.  I’ve simply given up.  At the core of this conflict is a feeling of estrangement.  I thought politics was supposed to be about helping people–a spiritual practice of sorts.  But one look at Fox News and the idea of politics and spirituality having any relationship falls apart.

Enter “Healing the Heart of Democracy,” Parker Palmer’s new book.  It is the first book I have encountered which reframes politics with the voice of spirit.  In the book Palmer asks a bold question: How can we approach political life with the heart of Jesus or the Buddha? How can we all participate in local or national politics in a way which is healing to humanity.

Each page of this book filled me with hope. I began to feel myself opening to the possibility of engaging in political dialogues in a way in which our families and communities grow more tolerant and generous.  In short, this book inspired me to believe again and showed me the ways in which I can participate in political life again.

I recommend this book to absolutely everyone–on any side of the political spectrum, and especially to folks like me, who were standing aside, wringing their hands and wishing for a better democracy.

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