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Healing the Heart of Democracy

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In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker J. Palmer quickens our instinct to seek the common good and gives us the tools to do it. This timely, courageous and practical work—intensely personal as well as political—is not about them, “those people” in Washington D.C., or in our state capitals, on whom we blame our political problems. It’s about us, “We the People,” and what we can do in everyday settings like families, neighborhoods, classrooms, congregations and workplaces to resist divide-and-conquer politics and restore a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

In the same compelling, inspiring prose that has made him a bestselling author, Palmer explores five “habits of the heart” that can help us restore democracy’s foundations as we nurture them in ourselves and each other:

  1. An understanding that we are all in this together
  2. An appreciation of the value of “otherness”
  3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways
  4. A sense of personal voice and agency
  5. A capacity to create community

Healing the Heart of Democracy is an eloquent and empowering call for “We the People” to reclaim our democracy. The online journal Democracy & Education called it “one of the most important books of the early 21st Century.” And Publishers Weekly, in a Starred Review, said “This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience that will benefit from discussing it.”

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Praise for Healing the Heart of Democracy

“This is not a book to rush through; the ideas call for careful reflection and ongoing debate. It’s possible that after cultivating Palmer’s five habits of the heart, participants will emerge from the circles with a better understanding of their own beliefs, more confident to discuss them with people holding different views, and more prepared to act on the five habits in their daily lives.” — Deanne Stone in The Whitman Institute’s newsletter. Read the full article:

“We have been trying to bridge the great divides in this great country for a long time. In this book, Parker J. Palmer urges us to ‘keep on walking, keep on talking’—just as we did in the civil rights movement—until we cross those bridges together.” —Congressman John Lewis, recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom

“…a book born for this moment. Wise, evocative, and pragmatic at its core, this dream for a new politics is grounded in dignity and liberty for all.” —Terry Tempest Williams, author, The Open Space of Democracy

“…the most important manifesto in generations for breaking through the divisiveness that has paralyzed our democracy.” —Bill Shore, founder of Share Our Strength, author, The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men

“…all who harbor concerns about American politics will find in this book a wise and kindred spirit who reminds us of choices we can make to help ‘reweave the tattered fabric of our civic life.’ You will close this book appreciating how much you can do, and how much depends on you.” —Diana Chapman Walsh, President Emerita of Wellesley College

“…breaks new ground in marrying the capacity of the human heart with the tensions inherent in politics [and] breathes new life into what it means to be a citizen—accountable, compassionate, fiercely realistic.”—Peter Block and John McKnight, coauthors, The Abundant Community

…a courageous work that is honest and true, human and humble, glitteringly intelligent and unabashedly hopeful. Palmer gives us constructive language, historical context and a practical vision for how we as individuals and communities can get to the real heart of the matter. —Carrie Newcomer, activist and singer-songwriter, The Geography of Light and Before and After

“…the book we need for recovering the heart—the very core—of our selves and our democracy.” —Krista Tippett, host of American Public Media’s Being, author, Einstein’s God

“…could not be more timely and needed. As one who has been guided through a time of personal reflection with Parker Palmer, I invite you to join in a journey through these chapters.” —Congresswoman Lois Capps, grandmother, mother, nurse, and seeker after democracy