Thursday, December 12, 2013

Spotlighting the legacy of leaning in

Nelson Mandela was an exceptional leader. Despite his failings of which he had his fair share, no doubt, yesterday’s memorial on his behalf will long be remembered as a testimony to his leadership’s greatness.  Few are those, presently alive or deceased, to rival this acclaim; the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu, among the few living, we may recall.

Choosing to “lean in” towards reconciliation rather than pursuing a path of revenge, Mandela’s leadership brought new hope, along with the end of apartheid to South Africa. Listed among the top ten-fifteen in the “Watkins Spiritual 1oo Lists” for 2011, 2012 and 2013, Mandela takes his place among world leaders, having made a unique and spiritual contribution on a world-wide level.

Today, as I am reflecting on the passing of Nelson Mandela and the legacy he left behind, my mind is called, also, to reflecting that today is the anniversary of the “Overcoming Polarization” event, New Horizons co-sponsored, last year on this date (original date changed due to Hurricane Sandy), and at which I was the concluding speaker. (You can read the full transcript of my talk here.)

The event, held at Hood College, Frederick, Maryland, featured a roundtable discussion with a panel of local leaders, representing various community groups; a representative Republican and Democrat, a Maryland State Senator as well as the President of the Frederick County Women’s Commission, were among these.

Personally inspired by the words of author and social researcher,  Mary Pipher, in her book, Writing To Change The World, I called attention, in my talk, to Pipher’s statement that “The two most radical things you can do in America are to slow down and talk to one another.” (Which, I assume means, also listening to one another.)

Based on this quote, I noted that we had been somewhat radical with the evening’s program; taking the time to slow down enough to be present and attentive to the voices that spoke throughout.

I was aware, also,  at the time that, if we had made any difference, at all, with this program, it was only a drop in the bucket, needing to be filled to make the “overcoming of polarization” a genuinely, valued experience, to any extent; “talking was not walking.”

And, New Horizons had, by this time, already made enough headway in its Possible Human, Possible Society Study data collecting to know that swimming just below the water’s surface of “talk,” most people, along with most communities, throughout our fifty states, have a long ways to go, in real time, where and when community unity is sought.

However, prompted by what we had experienced at this event; the positive as well as the problematic, New Horizons redoubled its commitment, following the occasion, to taking an active part in helping to create the changes for which we were yearning, based on our core principles. Thus our Possible Society In Motion Radio Show was born, a few short weeks later, to provide an ongoing forum for discussion on the factors and advantageous elements to consider that contribute to the social change that can help us get out of the many messes polarization can breed.

What we are contributing, through this show and our various other projects and programs, is only a small drop in that bucket that needs filling. But with almost one year of on-air time, continued data gathering for our Possible Human, Possible Society Study, countless discussion hours geared toward collective considerations on how we can overcome our national epidemic of alienation and conflict, we do seem to be finding and joining with others of like-mind to build “a lean in legacy.”

With the support and, thoughtful input of my Possible Society In Motion Radio Show co-host, Jack Slattery, and, occasional, regular guest, retired social worker, Gloria Livingston, we have already, to date, offered stimulating discussion on numerous topics, geared toward the hoped-for “overcoming of polarization” in our society and politics.

Over the coming holiday season and into the New Year, it is our intent, here on this site, to revisit some of the highlights from these radio shows, with links so you can, readily, hear them on podcast and related commentary on these that will enable you, as our audience, to expand your own, personal thinking on how we, all, can best help build a more unified U.S.A.. That "Possible Society In Motion" for which we are yearning.

Above all, we, at New Horizons, are wishing that some of the limitations identified by our data gathering and in our “Press Release” of October 24 will be turned to the good as we leave behind 2013, a year that saw far too much, unhelpful, U.S. polarization, sadly, leaving our country functioning far beneath its capabilities for the exceptional endeavors of a more humane society.

The leaning in with love for one’s neighbor, the leaning in, always, toward healing and reconciliation rather than that of alienation, as Nelson Mandela exemplified in the legacy he left behind.

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