I recently attended a 4 day conference, The Nantucket Project.
The theme of the 11th TNP was “pluralism.” Among the dozens of speakers – including Michelle Obama, Ken Burns, Rainn Wilson, Kelly Corrigan, Jennifer Lawrence, Arthur Brooks, Laura Ingram, and Brad Raffensperger (list goes on and on) – was Eboo Patel, whose organization, the New Pluralists “Will invest in strengthening the growing field that is addressing our nation’s crisis of division, distrust, dehumanization, and disconnection.”
I need to note here that alongside the well known, aforementioned quasi-famous/famous people, there were a number of folks, like Caprice Jones (Fountain of Youth), and Layla Zaidane (Millennial Action Project) who may be less well known but are doing really meaningful work that helps our society.
As I meandered through a highly thought provoking (soulful, gut wrenching, joyful, rocking) weekend, a couple words kept coming to the surface – “love,” and “humanity.” At the end of his riveting opening night discussion with documentary film maker Ken Burns, Founder Tom Scott offered 3 sacred words: “We the People” to which Ken responded confidently: “Yes, and I have 3 better: I Love You.”
It strikes me that perhaps we need to “love humanity” – in our neighbors and ourselves – a lot more than we do.
This theme was reinforced on my ride to work this morning as I spoke to a dear friend who is recovering in the hospital after surgery. He commented to me on how very nice it feels to be taken care of – to be loved, really – by the doctors and nurses caring for him, if even for a short hospital stay. We discussed how that benefits both the receiver and the giver, and that as a doctor himself, it’s the very thing that keeps him coming back to work each day.
Partway through the conference, I found these words from the old Don Henley song “Heart of the Matter” running through my head:
“Ah, these times are so uncertain . . . There’s a yearning undefined . . . And people filled with rage . . . We all need a little tenderness . . . How can love survive . . . In such a graceless age?
I’ve been tryin’ to get down . . . To the heart of the matter . . .”
Let’s keep tryin’.
Yours in practice,
Heart of the Matter (1990) Written by Don Henley, J.D Souther and Mike Campbell