Connection, Dialogue, Learning, Reflecting, Staying Curious

J’apprends avec mon coeur et ma tête *

file-16-paris peace

*I learn with my heart and my head.

I’m writing this in the days after the Friday 13th Paris attacks.

I’m thinking about learning and the importance of it at every stage in our lives, and at every level in how we organise ourselves, our work and our society.

I’m thinking about starting with personal learning – and how important it is to keep an open mind, even if it is with a defiant heart. How our ability to see the other side to an argument and not become entrenched in our own narrow world-view has never been more important. How we still have much to learn, no matter how sure we feel.

Over the past days I have read narratives in the media, on Twitter and Facebook – some have resolutely advocated compassion, bravery, tolerance and understanding. Others have resolutely advocated vengeance, retaliation, punishment and retribution. At times over the past days I have sympathised with and rejected both sides as “the way forward”.

I’ve been writing a lot recently and going back to sources of work which inspire me or give me pause…so it was I touched back on the very excellent writing and work of Khurshed Dehnugara. In Flawed but Willing, he quotes Martin Luther King and in the past days, nothing seems truer:

“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes. That.

What comes forward for me is, perhaps inevitably, the importance of dialogue – of hearing both positions and hearing them well without rejecting or accepting either as The Way. The need to respond, to punish and fight back comes from deep within us – we are not pushovers; the need to forgive, to love, to be better than these wasteful, destructive, vengeful acts is equally deeply embedded, and when used wisely is arguably more powerful.

These mad stupid boys who blow themselves & others up . These masked creatures who behave as if life were theirs to take. Their arrogance offends me. Their certainty frightens me. Their actions appal me. In the face of Kalashnikovs and Hatred, my ability to reason or love or understand all but abandons me.

At times like these, when my heart rages at injustices and weeps at loss, I could become overwhelmed and stupid. So I come back to the practices I learned through working dialogically:
Suspend Judgement
Actively Listen
Speak Authentically
Respect Others.

Only here can I hold myself open to the possibility of learning something new – understanding another viewpoint, the possibility that there might be another way, some how, some way.

I have to live like that might work.

I have to live like we can learn.

I have to live with hope.




My thoughts go out to everyone who lost someone beloved or dear in Paris.
I hope for peace-of-mind and strength of spirit for those survivors who will, inevitably, be changed by all that has happened.

2 thoughts on “J’apprends avec mon coeur et ma tête *”

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