We live in a time when people often feel disconnected from one another, no matter how many high-tech communications devices we own. And yet, there is a widespread yearning for community. People want to transcend the barriers that keep them apart.
Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science, and president of The Berkana Institute, a charitable global leadership foundation, notes at the start of this hopeful paperback: "I believe we can change the world if we start listening to each other."
But first we have to have good human conversation: "If we can sit together and talk about what’s important to us, we begin to come alive. We share what we see, what we feel, and we listen to what others see and feel." Wheatley goes on to discuss some of the conditions that make for conversations that matter. She includes under this banner acknowledging one another as equals; staying curious about each other; slowing down so we have time to really think and reflect; and accepting that this dialogue can be messy at times.
Turning to One Another offers fresh slants on the spiritual practice of listening, which is the key to what Wheatley calls our vocation to be fully human: "I think the greatest danger to good conversation is that we’ve lost the capacity to listen. We’re too busy, too certain, too stressed. We don’t have time to listen."
Once we become good listeners we’re much more open to others, especially those who are very different from us. Or as Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts it: "We are so different so that we can know our need for one another, for no one is completely self-sufficient." On this same tact, Wheatley adds: "It’s not our differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do." Good listeners never cut off dialogue with judgments that only serve to emphasize separation. A special feature of this paperback is ten conversation starters.