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Standing and Acting in the “Tragic Gap”

Healing the Heart of Democracy Discussion Guide (p. 273)
Video with Parker J. Palmer (4:35 min.)

Of all the tensions we must hold in personal and political life, perhaps the most fundamental and most challenging is standing and acting with hope in the “tragic gap.” On one side of that gap, we see the hard realities of the world, realities that can crush our spirits and defeat our hopes. On the other side of that gap, we see real-world possibilities, life as we know it could be because we have seen it that way. (191)

Q. Is there a part of your life where you find yourself standing in the tragic gap—in your family, your workplace, your community, or the larger world? If so, have you ever been tempted to “flip out” into “corrosive cynicism” or “irrelevant idealism”? What helps you stay in the gap and keep acting there? What might further strengthen your ability to do so?

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