The Politics of the Brokenhearted

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 6:12 am

The Politics of the Brokenhearted

A few words about heartbreak, written during a week when the heartbreak of 9/11 is being memorialized and new heartbreak has been felt here and around the world…

Heartbreak is a part of life no one can avoid. But I have choices to make about how my heart breaks. Will it break apart into a thousand shards, and perhaps be thrown like a fragment grenade at the ostensible source of my pain? Or will it break open into greater capacity to hold my own and the world’s suffering and joy?

If I shut my heart down and allow it to get brittle, heartbreak will shatter it, injuring me and those around me. But if keep my heart supple by “exercising” it — allowing my suffering and the suffering around me to stretch that spiritual muscle — heartbreak will open my heart, bringing me more peace and adding to the world’s vital store of compassion.

The prelude to my book, Healing the Heart of Democracy, is titled “The Politics of the Brokenhearted.” Here’s a 3.5 minute video in which I talk about why the broken heart is an important political as well as personal reality:

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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 A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. His book On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old will be published in June.

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