06/20/2012 03:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Parker Palmer: Habits of the Heart (VIDEO)

"Jesus would have participated in the Occupy Movement" - Parker Palmer

Last year I spent some time with Jean Vanier and he asked me if I knew of or had read any Parker Palmer. I hadn't. Jean suggestion I do. I did. Parker's work broke my heart open and not long after I spent time with him and his wife at their house in Wisconsin. In this clip Parker talks about "the living laboratory of democracy" and what the Church has to do with that lab. I asked Parker to set up the clip...

For the past ten months, I've been traveling and talking about my new book, Healing the Heart of Democracy. I've spoken to thousands of people who are looking for a way to deal with our national problems that's more creative than the meaningless "sound and fury" that passes for politics these days.

As a starting point, many of them are focusing on five "habits of the heart" that "We the People" must cultivate if American democracy is to survive and thrive, habits we can develop and deepen in ourselves, and in each other, day in and day out:

(1) An understanding that we are all in this together.
(2) An appreciation of the value of "otherness."
(3) An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
(4) A sense of personal voice and agency.
(5) A capacity to create community.

These are habits that most of us learn in close-at-hand places like families, neighborhoods, classrooms, workplaces, and religious communities. Yes, in some of those settings people are on the wrong side of these issues. There are neighborhoods that don't model the fact that we are all in this together; classrooms that don't teach students how to hold the tension of disagreement in a way that leads to learning; and religious communities that fear and reject "otherness" instead of welcoming it.

But there are many such settings where multitudes of people are calling out "the better angels of our nature" (to quote Abraham Lincoln), in search of that "more perfect Union" that the U. S. Constitution holds before us as a vision of possibility.

"We the People" called American democracy into being, and only we can call it back to its highest values. Cultivating democratic habits of the heart is a critical part of renewing our democracy, and religious communities that care about the common good have a vital role to play in that renewal.

Habits Of The Heart from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

Purchase a hi res version and other films with Parker Palmer from The Work Of the People.
Purchase Parker's latest book Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit HERE.