We’re starting a new occasional feature: A short excerpt from a book that has relevance to the topic we’re covering. Here’s the first one, from the 2011 book “Healing the Heart of Democracy” by Parker J. Palmer.
“Talking about ‘those people’ (in Washington, D.C., on whom we like to blame our ills) instead of talking with each other is a poor excuse for genuine political discourse. It is also a path to political disempowerment, a way to make sure that ‘We the People’ will have little or no leverage on the social and economic problems that concern us, and no way to discern and give voice to the common good. …
“Being grown-ups in our private and public lives means taking responsibility for whatever is within our reach. And politics is always within our reach—if we understand it first and foremost as the business of ‘We the People’ and only secondarily as the business of the people we elect to office. Every time we talk with family, friends, classmates, colleagues, strangers—including those who see things differently than we do—about the state of the Union, we have a chance to assume our share of responsibility for a democracy founded on citizen convictions of the common good. In statistical terms, our individual shares are insignificant, to be sure. In moral terms, however, they are vital. History has always been made by individuals doing their small parts in ways that have the potential to add up to something big.”
—From “Healing the Heart of Democracy” by Parker J. Palmer, published in 2011 by Jossey-Bass