The On Being Project

Letter from Loring Park

Six Virtues To Live By and Ground You

The honor of the week had to be participating in the Obama Foundation’s inaugural summit in Chicago. Last Wednesday, Krista interviewed journalist Anand Giridharadas and Whitney Kimball Coe of the National Rural Assembly (look for it in our podcast in several weeks).

And, she and the director of our Civil Conversations Project, Malka Fenyvesi, led a breakout workshop on creating spaces for fresh conversation and relationship. Krista told me that one of the most powerful moments of the session was hearing six different people in the room read aloud each description of the six “grounding virtues” in our “Better Conversations” starter guide. They are:

• Words That Matter
• Generous Listening
• Adventurous Civility
• Humility
• Patience
• Hospitality

Try it out, and tell us how you used the guide! And now onto my recommended reading for the week…

(Mandel Ngan / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Broderick Greer | When You Try to Change People That’s Not Love, It’s Domination

The author and social activist bell hooks once said:

“Our culture doesn’t recognize passion because real passion has the power to disrupt boundaries. I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility. Not this ‘In order to love you, I must make you something else.” That’s what domination is all about, that in order to be close to you, I must possess you, remake and recast you.”

Broderick kicks off his essay with an excerpt of this quotation and offers an honest, open perspective on the difficulty of discerning “the difference between love and domination.”

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images )

Parker Palmer | Any Morning Can Be a Little Corner of Heaven
Even the best of us become trapped by the craziness of the world. The price? Our own well-being. Parker serves up a poem by William Stafford to take to heart:

“Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven / left lying around, can be picked up and saved. / People won’t even see that you have them, / they are so light and easy to hide.”

(Doug Kaye / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs)

Courtney Martin | A Couple of Truths About Adulthood That No One Tells You
The great myth we tell ourselves is that the people and the organizations we most admire have it all figured out. But, as she does so well, Courtney points out two truths that challenge this notion:

“Adults do not have their shit together. Even the really successful ones. … The organizations and institutions you admire from afar are riddled with problems — and still worth admiring.”

(Saghar Setareh / Flickr / © All Rights Reserved)

Omid Safi | You Know You’re An Immigrant When…
Our Thursday columnist entwines two stories about being an immigrant in the U.S. in 2017: the blessing of his mother’s cooking and the frustration of traveling as brown-skinned, Muslim man:

“I got home to North Carolina, and my suitcase was there. The Lord works in ways subtle and beautiful, including having your suitcase get there. I brought it home and opened it to put mom’s alchemical food away.

And there it was: a note from Homeland Security. The same note I get each time I check luggage. ‘Yes, we have opened your luggage and gone through it. Oh, this has nothing to do with your racial background, it is for everyone’s… safety.’ I feel so violated each time. How is it random when it is every time?”

And I’d like to leave you with a few articles I’m grateful to have read these past few weeks:

The New York Times Magazine | When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy
When her TED Talk about power-posing blew up, the Harvard social psychologist was subjected to an extreme level of scrutiny. But was it fair?

The Guardian | Life After Leaving a Big Job
Giving up one’s position and income feels like failure even if it’s the right call. The question is: How do people adjust afterwards?

The Atlantic | Harvey Weinstein and the Economics of Consent
Actress, writer, and producer Brit Marling with sobering words on the complicity we all share in deepening “imbalances of power.” She concludes:

“The real danger inside the present moment, then, would be for us all to separate the alleged deeds of Cosby, Ailes, O’Reilly, or Weinstein from a culture that continues to allow for dramatic imbalances of power. It’s not these bad men. Or that dirty industry. It’s this inhumane economic system of which we are all a part. As producers and as consumers. As storytellers and as listeners. As human beings. That’s a very uncomfortable truth to sit inside. But perhaps discomfort is what’s required to move in the direction of a humane world to which we would all freely give our consent.”

May the wind always be at your back,

P.S. How are we doing? What kinds of perspectives are we missing? What kinds of topics and ideas would you like us to explore? What questions are you holding? Send me a note and we’ll definitely consider. You can reach me at [email protected].

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