The Place Where We Are Right

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 4:59 am

The Place Where We Are Right

Here’s a poem I re-read frequently. As short and simple as it is, it helps me remember that nothing new can grow between us when we speak to each other from “the place where we are right.”

More important, the poem leads me to ask what I think is a question worth pondering: How might things change if we began our political conversations not from our certainties, but from our “doubts and loves”?
Many of us who differ politically love the same things — our children and grandchildren, our country, the natural world. Many of us who differ politically harbor the same doubts — that what’s being done (or not done) to care for the things we love is the best or the right thing to do.
Yes, we differ on what ought to be done. But what if instead of starting by arguing over solutions — over “the place where we are right” — we began by sharing our loves and doubts? I suspect that our political conversations would be much more productive because they would proceed from common ground.
Hey, it’s worth a try! One thing I’m certain about is that the other way isn’t working!
Yehuda Amichai is widely regarded as Israel’s greatest modern poet. If you read “The Place Where We Are Right” while remembering the political context in which it was written, the poem’s power multiplies.

The Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the Spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

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is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

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