The practice of humanity

Someone I admire posted a link to an interview with Vincent Harding the great civil rights elder in honour of Martin Luther King Day this week

Vincent Harding was a close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King and wrote King’s famous antiwar speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.”

Like all On Being interviews; the conversation is generous and important but one part particularly resonated with me. Although Vincent Harding was talking about America and the hope that we might create a beloved community and rise above our meagre ambitions for a tolerant and civil society. . . this is also true of any community, any group of people seeking conversation for change and new ways of being.

. . to develop the best humanity, the best spirit, the best community, there needs to be discipline, practices of exploring. How do you do that? How do we work together? How do we talk together in ways that will open up our best capacities and our best gifts?

Vincent Harding

Let us consider that the development of a new way might require not just an open mind, or a preference or tendency towards intimacy and vulnerability, but something more.

That it may also require a discipline

A practice of sorts.

Which can sometimes feel at odds

In the battle between hard and soft skill.

For those who believe that distinction

is important.

One of the outputs of some various personality test I took once, designated the difference between my conative approach and that of another as coming down mostly to my comfort in chaos.

In the knowing that if you continue to explore and grapple with uncertainty, that the path you’ll take will become clear. The system required to resolve, will reveal itself. That the method for working with uncertainty is actually quite certain.

And whilst I believe it’s true that if you allow yourself to explore the chaos and the unlimited avenues of adventure within a scenario . . that the process will reveal itself. It’s also true that the same creative strategic thinking requires rigor, structure and discipline throughout.

A fine balance which is difficult to articulate, to navigate and to coach.

All of us, still students.

How reassuring to recognise that.

Perhaps what we might endeavour to get better at

Is learning how to do it together.

Hat Tip to Rebecca Channer for this provocation.


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