14 Ways of Looking at Community — Parker Palmer

I’m grateful to a friend, Lisa Hess, who shared a Parker Palmer article. To Lisa for her wise ways in the world. To Parker Palmer for a life dedicated to nuancing courage and renewal.

I’m excerpting below. The “ways” are enough to carry my heart deeply to communal wonder. The full article is here.

  1. Community is not a goal to be achieved but a gift to be received. 
  2. Receptivity involves inner work — it must be present in the individual as “a capacity for connectedness.”
  3. We cultivate a capacity for connectedness through contemplation — I need other people for comfort, encouragement, and support, and, for criticism, challenge, and collaboration.
  4. The most common connotation of the word “community” in our culture is “intimacy,” but this is a trap.
  5. The concept of community must embrace even those we perceive as “enemy.” 
  6. Hard experiences are not the death knell of community — they are the gateway into the real thing. 
  7. It is tempting to think of hierarchy and community as opposites, as one more “either-or.”  I am proposing “pockets of possibility” within bureaucratic structures, places where people can live and work differently than the way dictated by the organizational chart. 
  8. Community requires more leadership, not less, than bureaucracies.  The authority to lead toward community can emerge from anyone in an organization.
  9. Leadership for community consists in creating, holding, and guarding a trustworthy space in which human resourcefulness may be evoked. 
  10. Ironically, we often resist leaders who call upon our resourcefulness. 
  11. Seeing and treating wounds takes courage and tenacity.
  12. In the face of resistance, an ungrounded leader will revert to bureaucratic modes.
  13. There is a name for what leaders experience during this prolonged period of patient waiting. It is called “suffering.”
  14. I have yet to see a seminar in suffering as part of a leadership training program. But leadership for community will always break our hearts — reframed as the breaking open of one’s heart into larger, more generous forms.

Yup, lots of good in this for those of us dedicated to more inspired ways of doing and being. I’m grateful to many teachers over the years that have spoken honestly about going together.

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