Healing the Heart of Democracy


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by Parker J. Palmer

At a critical time in American life, Parker J. Palmer looks with realism and hope at how to deal with our political tensions for the sake of the common good-without the shouting, blaming, or defaming so common in our politics today.

In his newest book, Parker J. Palmer builds on his own extensive experience as an inner life explorer and social change activist to examine the personal and social infrastructure of American politics. What he did for educators in The Courage to Teach he does here for citizens by looking at the dynamics of our inner lives for clues to reclaiming our civic well-being. In Healing the Heart of Democracy, he points the way to a politics rooted in the commonwealth of compassion and creativity still found among "We the People."

"Democracy," writes Palmer, "is a non-stop experiment in the strengths and weaknesses of our political institutions, local communities, and the human heart-and its outcome can never be taken for granted. The experiment is endless, unless we blow up the lab, and the explosives to do the job are found within us. But so also is the heart''s alchemy that can turn suffering into compassion, conflict into community, and tension into energy for creativity amid democracy''s demands."

Healing the Heart of Democracy names the "habits of the heart" we need to revitalize our politics and shows how they can be formed in the everyday venues of our lives. Palmer proposes practical and hopeful methods to hold the tensions of our differences in a manner that can help us restore a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."

Praise for Healing the Heart of Democracy

"We have been trying to bridge the great divides in this great country for a long time. In this book, 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."
-Congressman John Lewis, recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom

"A book born for this moment. Wise, evocative, and pragmatic at its core, this dream for a new politics is grounded in dignity and liberty for all."
-Terry Tempest Williams, author, The Open Space of Democracy

"The most important manifesto in generations for breaking through the divisiveness that has paralyzed our democracy."
-Bill Shore, founder of Share Our Strength; author, The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men

"All who harbor concerns about American politics will find in this book a wise and kindred spirit who reminds us of choices we can make to help ''reweave the tattered fabric of our civic life.'' You will close this book appreciating how much you can do, and how much depends on you."
-Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita, Wellesley College

"Breaks new ground in marrying the capacity of the human heart with the tensions inherent in politics [and] breathes new life into what it means to be a citizen-accountable, compassionate, fiercely realistic."
-Peter Block and John McKnight, coauthors, The Abundant Community

"The book we need for recovering the heart-the very core-of our selves and our democracy."
-Krista Tippett, host, American Public Media''s Being author, Einstein''s God

"Could not be more timely and needed. As one who has been guided through a time of personal reflection with Parker Palmer, I invite you to join in a journey through these chapters."
-Congresswoman Lois Capps, grandmother, mother, nurse, and seeker after democracy