by Courage & Renewal Facilitator Estrus Tucker
August 28, 2011, the forty-eighth anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, found me reflecting on my life and our democracy. I remembered the hope and inspiration of MLK's message and felt the deep and exhausting heartache of politics local and national. And I anxiously awaited the release of Parker Palmer's Healing the Heart of Democracy: Creating A Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.
Parker, like Martin, invites our imagination to dwell in the possibility and promise of a world that works for all. Not perfectly, but hopefully and authentically. No more shell game democracy, but real, for all who call America home. For me Martin's and Parker's messages appeal to something more than my African American roots and my activist heart. They appeal to something universal and shared -- my humanity.
As a student and a young man, I would often recite King's "I Have A Dream" message at Church, City and Community programs. As a more mature man I live and work in the tragic gap between America's hopeful promises and her heartbreaking realities.
Professionally and personally I've followed a thread along my journey of courage and renewal. A thread that continues to weave and bob and at times disappears in the midst of the increasing demands and the dark nights of modern life. But always I feel the gentle and unmistakable tug on my heart that leads me on and sustains my passion for truth, justice and a beloved community capable and willing to reconcile its people.
Across this country I have creatively applied our Courage and Renewal principles and practices in response to a great diversity of community needs and opportunities, with the companionship of trusted colleagues. Most recently in Birmingham, Alabama where I led a one day offering with an incredible gathering of Nonprofit Leaders. These habits of the heart were present, alive and yearning for space to grow.
For over six years now, I've witnessed firsthand the subtle power of these habits of the heart all over the beautiful state of Mississippi. Mississippi's beauty isn't its politics or it's quality of life rankings and certainly not it's dominant history. Mississippi's beauty is the grace, hospitality, courage and dreams of her people, all colors, races, faith traditions and incomes, held in their hearts and expanding outward. Mississippi demonstrates Parker's insight that our answers to our democracy's dilemmas are first and foremost "within us and between us."
And of course, my native land Texas, a state with big dreams and big deficits, holds my heart because of what I love and who I love, my family, friends and neighbors of every imaginable persuasion, who collectively embody these habits of the heart. Our challenge in Texas, as is the challenge all over our country, is living the democratic ideals and daring to embrace, deepen and expand these simple yet critical habits. Our October 11th webcast with Parker Palmer: Democracy From the Inside Out is in service of wholeheartedly meeting this challenge together.
What's great about our nation has never been our political leaders or corporations or wars. Our greatness has always abided in the open, courageous and compassionate hearts of our people.
These Habits of the Heart and the other ideas of Parker's newest offering are not the end of our search for a living democracy and the dream realized, but rather a hopeful advance of our search by inviting, engaging and inspiring us as citizens, in ways that are precious to the soul of our homelands and the world. This webcast is a call to action, inviting us to work together with hope while we dream.