September 22, 2016
Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin —
The Inner Life of Rebellion

The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Quaker wise man Parker Palmer and journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change.

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Rebellion and the Human Spirit: Courtney Martin and Parker Palmer Onstage at PopTech (Video)

"To hold hope these days is an act of rebellion."

Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin explore how to do disruption, innovation, and rebellion as meaningful acts of creation and the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change in a live conversation at PopTech: Rebellion in October 2014.

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Reflections

Crazy Beautiful

rebel
consciousness
discerning
vulnerability
stalwart
flexibility
simple
elegance

Quick!
She's going to put the lizard in her mouth!

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
in “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk”
offers some wonderful parenting “hacks”.

This stepping into parenting shoes is an interesting place to look: this compass heading of care, a willingness to attend complexities from which often come elegant solutions that truly can be said to multiply the loaves and fishes!

I usually listen on Sunday morning at 7 AM to Krista's interviews. I could not wait this week to listen to this show.
It is true and pure interview. It is the Sincerity ,that is between all the participants ,that makes ,this show so rich to me.
I am glad to have received the messages earlier this week. I will listen again ,on Sunday morning to pick up more "pearls" to help keep my rebellious spirit -fresh and sustainable.
As I work hard to protect our planet and environment in my profession.

Thank you for this wonderful episode- listened to it twice and feel like I could listen to it many more. I haven't written in my blog in months, but was inspired to write: "When the ego has to pause":

Listening to this was such a joyful experience. Thank you.

Great interview, have been listening to it on my phone while walking.

In listening I think I have been rebelling against everything spiritual for some time as I came to the realization that nothing is black and white, a concept Christianity taught me as a child. Living with uncertainty has caused me great anxiety and has given me panic attacks.

Parker stated he faced depression on and off and that's when I realized I could possibly get outside of this anxiety if I can face the paradoxes of life as he has.

None of the concepts spoken about are new to me. I have read a number of books over the years including Thomas Mertons, I have tried a number of practices, I have journaled topics into the ground but I still have t been able to get to that place of peace. I'm not even sure I know where one starts,which path one takes in a desert full of crossroads.

this is such an important program because there is nothing doing it as well.
i really enjoyed lisening to these special people. it's important imhothat writing many books is a midway point being doing nothing and doing actual things - human rights observer, hospice vounteer, doctor giving free, working in any elected of staff to elected capacity with integrity,listening lots, writing great apps that help. doing actual things force you to compromise in ways george washington suggested, lincoln and be heavily humiliated by others. gandhi when asked what a solitary satyagrahi cando he said go into the world live among the poor and figuring out what to do. that is your antidote to the illusory "burden" of living in a world of privilege. too many words become individually more and more pointless.

Great discussion. This is the point of our work on "trustless technologies at MIT Media Lab and ID3 and the Windhover Principles: See our free book: From Bitcoin to Burning and Beyond: The Quest for Identity and Autonomy in a Digital Society _ Kindle or off our site. The move towards authenticity - trust and Tiellard de Chardin's vision of the Noosphere. A new sphere of transcendence and Logos.

I was only able to listen to Courtney Martin's voice for five minutes. Her vocal fry and up-talking were too distracting. I understand this is something young women purposely do, but they should realize the perception in the listener is quite negative. There is ample research on this. When I was a college student all teachers-in-training were required to take a speech and diction course. Our professor, Dr. Patrick, would never have allowed someone to pass who used a vocal fry and up-talking. These two vocal affectations should be banished along with the word "like."

Compassion and courage are qualities that Courtney has plenty of though and so I would encourage you to recognize your arrogance and condescension, give some thought to how you might be more compassionate and listen anyway.

Spot on mate. Its becoming a disturbing fad - believed to convey authority it only exacerbates and dissonances the listener.

At the point where using labels was mentioned, I realized that Jesus Christ never labeled Himself as the Son of God. He simply LIVED as the Son of God. BEING the Son. DOING things that were impossible for ordinary men. TEACHING people how to BE more than ordinary.

He never claimed to be anything, and did not accept labels that ordinary people tried to apply to Him.

Thank you for this great conversation and I hope to listen to it again. I heard Parker Palmer ask if there was "hacking of the soul". Of course there is, and like any definition in an unabrdidged dictionary, there are many entries, some perhaps seeming to contradict others,always open to contest and refinement: 1) the prize of any expression of oppressive power, such as homophobia, racism, sexism, religious certitude, elitism,the top 1%, and all of their unique, crass or beguiling terrorizing methodologies, etc.; 2) a willful misrepresentation or ignorance of history; 3) walking into a 12-step meeting and sticking it out because an addiction has hijacked (be honest,endangered) your life; 4) the fearful prizing and endless tutoring for ACTs, SATs, GREs, GMATs, LSATs, "teaching to the test", etc.; 5) confession of imperfection (or being wrong) when it is the last you want to do and you feel so shameful; 6) admission and welcoming of imperfection in the face of a system demanding and defining perfection in so many subtle forms; 6) a person delaying medical care--which they suspect they really need--because their deductible is too high and "who do you think you are anyway"; 7) hacking the soul is a mixed enterprise informing history for a long time.

I was glad to see that someone referenced Parker Palmer's question about hacking the soul. Even though he seemed to minimize it immediately, sort of dismissing the possibility, I thought it was a valid question. I've recently been struggling through a 2008 book by Kathleen Norris, "Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer's Life," and when I heard the term, soul hacking, something clicked in regards to what Norris seems to be trying to describe. I say I've been struggling, because I have a hard time accepting much of her references to "sin" and "evil" and it took me a while to get to the point where I could accept her verbiage and make any real progress with the book. I still have difficulties with it, but it's gotten better since I've come to accept that the author's voice is an integral part of the story, and sometimes I have to try harder to hear what's behind the words. Palmer may be on to something with this hacking concept, though, and that might work better for me than acedia.

A good discussion, and I want to thank both Paul and Cathy for contributing to it. But a word or two of clarification regarding what I said in the interview about "hacking the soul" might help. Or maybe not!

First, one big theme at the PopTech Conference (where this interview with Krista took place) was "elegant hacking" to improve things with the least digital fuss—not the conventional (I quote Wikipedia now) effort to exploit "weaknesses in a computer system or computer network." So, in context, my remarks were not addressed to the "dark side" of hacking.

Second, my remarks were made in an attempt at humor. As Courtney reveals in the interview, I had asked her just seconds before we went onstage to define hacking for me. In the context of an intergenerational conversation, we were having some fun with that moment when an older person asked a younger person about something many young people have understood from birth!

In response to Paul, I'd suggest that all the "dark side" examples of soul-hacking he offers could be understood not as hacking into the soul, but as evoking our egos, our emotions (e.g., fear and greed), our will to power, etc., in ways that obscure the soul and keep us from heeding its agenda. I agree that all the items on Paul's list are distortions of what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature," but I don't see them as the result of soul-hacking.

As I said in the interview, I learned the most about "soul" (at least about my own soul) during deep bouts with depression, where all my other faculties had been hacked, or hijacked. All that remained was a seemingly inextinguishable spark of life way back in the thickets of my life that could not be distorted by my despair and helped keep me from taking my life. Though I believe the soul can be obscured, I don't believe its "code" can be rewritten, for better or for worse. For me, at least, that's not a theory, but a profoundly experiential truth. It's also a point I made in the Prelude to my 2006 book "A Hidden Wholeness" which you'll find below.

Sorry to go on at such length. But I think this is an important discussion, and I wanted to make my own viewpoint clear—beyond what I said in the context of the PopTech discourse in an attempt at humor. Thanks again to both of you for stimulating further thought.

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PRELUDE

"The Blizzard of the World"

The blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul.

—Leonard Cohen

There was a time when farmers on the Great Plains, at the first signs of a blizzard, would run a rope from the back door out to the barn. They all knew stories of people who had wandered off and been frozen to death, having lost sight of home in a whiteout while still in their own back yards.

Today we live in a blizzard of another sort. It swirls around us as economic injustice, ecological ruin, physical and spiritual violence, and their inevitable outcome, war. It swirls within us as fear and frenzy, greed and deceit, and indifference to the suffering of others. We all know stories of people who have wandered off into this madness and been separated from their own souls, losing their moral bearings and even their mortal lives: they make headlines because they take so many innocents down with them.

The lost ones come from every walk of life: clergy and corporate executives, politicians and people on the street, celebrities and school children. Some of us fear that we, or those we love, will become lost in the storm. Some are lost at this moment, and are trying to find the way home. Some are lost without knowing it. And some are using the blizzard as cover, while cynically exploiting its chaos for private gain.

So it is easy to believe the poet’s claim that “the blizzard of the world” has overturned “the order of the soul”, easy to believe that the soul—that life-giving core of the human self, with its hunger for truth and justice, love and forgiveness—has lost all power to guide our lives.

But my own experience of the blizzard, which includes getting lost in it more often than I like to admit, tells me that it is not so. The soul’s order can never be destroyed. It may be obscured by the whiteout. We may forget, or deny, that its guidance is close at hand. And yet, we are still in the soul’s back yard, with chance after chance to regain our bearings.

This book is about tying a rope from the back door out to the barn so we can find our way home again. When we catch sight of the soul, we can survive the blizzard without losing our hope or our way. When we catch sight of the soul, we can become healers in a wounded world—in the family, the neighborhood, the workplace, and in political life—as we are called back to our “hidden wholeness” amid the violence of the storm.

(From "A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life" by Parker J. Palmer, 2006)

This actually does help me, Parker, and I appreciate you taking the time to weigh in here and provide clarification. It had occurred to me that you were perhaps saying this jokingly, but regardless, it was a rather intriguing query to ponder.

I love your story of tying a rope (literally a lifeline) from the house to the barn so as not to be lost during a blizzard. I would imagine that this was also used a lot during the dust storms of the 1930's. I am thankful for all the many lifelines including your works, and those of others, and the many programs that are provided by On Being, that help keep us all from being defeated by the many storms that swirl around us daily.

Woke up to this intelligent,thoughtful&sincere conversation around the longingof the soul for a meaningful life.I loved the honesty of ParkerPalmeras he recounted his bouts of depression. Courtney brought a unique perspective to the discussion.What she has accomplished in such a short time is laudable. I feel like I need to get going. I will probably listen to this again.

Is anyone slightly uncomfortable with this emphasis on change as 'an inside job' of polishing the self. Such articulateness about tweaking every dial to adjust every subtle nuance of inner feelings. Meanwhile the economic structure and power relationships stay exactly the same. At the end of the program,we too easily feel warm, generous without ever confronting or even mentioning the data of others despair.

Beautiful conversation by two of my current spiritual mentors!!! What an honor to hear such an intergenerational, mutually inclusive conversation filled with wisdom, hope, love, friendship and the greater meaning of rebellion. This maybe the best gift I have received this year.

As this generation of 20 somethings and 30 somethings is stepping up to grasp the reigns of society, there is a different kind of hope. Maybe we can focus on building deeper relationships and letting the conversations carryon the work rather than laboring over the newest tallest sky scrapper in the world. Maybe we don't want to scrape the sky. I play that we learn, and I quote andrea gibson, that there are better ways to swimming than just kicking!

Thank you for this conversation

Beautiful! The title of the piece was perfect and the conversation between these two different/ yet similar people was a great example of paradox. The views of the horizon as travelers on different parts of the arc (life's learning curve perhaps) was an especially enlightening. Thank you.

Made me come up with the following: "To be effective, forgiveness needs to be absolute." Thank You.

I gotta tell you, I LOVE this discussion, love what comes up from both, from between all THREE of you. But I'm looking at this photo of the three of you on stage and there's a sign behind you that says... ummmm... "POP TECH" - right? We're talking about the inner and outer life, the soul, the deepest questions of life... so, I'm like - is this big sign and this name (poptech??? what, a technological poptart?) - I ask you guys - where's the gravitas?? :)

Society is constituted by hierarchical vertical channels of transactions enforced by coercive violence and the threat thereof, administered by police and military forces under the cloak of a judicial system. Society is the body of the state. It channels resources and the claims to them up the hierarchy from the many to the privileged few. Democracy is a method of maintaining an appearance of legitimacy of society.

Community coheres through non-hierarchical voluntary horizontal interactions, very few of which are transactions. Society attempts to monitor, prescribe and proscribe these interactions. Society and community are mutually incompatible. Community needs no democracy; to the extent that that democracy is needed, it is not community.

With increasing resource scarcity, society tends to commandeer resources and choke off community. One may expect more conflict between community and society to be forthcoming.

It is useful to see clearly whether one is working for society or community.

This was food for my soul to listen to on another rainy night in Georgia. Mr. Palmer, Ms. Martin, and Ms. Tippett are all inspirations of mine. What a gift to be able to listen to them converse! When I was in my early twenties, I spent a year living in a retirement home for Catholic sisters where I witnessed the miraculous transformations that occur on both sides of authentic and open cross-generational dialogue. I hold faith in such dialogues to help heal on both an individual and societal level. Thank you to On Being for branching out in recent months to help some of us youngsters feel welcome in the conversation. The community that has been created here is revolutionary. I love reading the columns and their reflections/comments. It gives me such hope to be reminded how many thoughtful people exist! This episode has joined the list of favorites alongside so many other great ones.

Dearest Rob Bee thanx for the link
First reflection I am not rebelling I am restoring myself to my inner focus while staying fully engaged and present in my life
the wheel that turns me is not outside but within and it turns on this planet and through me and the water that passes through me with each breath and each word and each thought there is no violence in me nor will I allow the movement of violence to go through me as if I am here to be its filter
rather I begin and end with neither the idea of a closed system or the thought that it has to have a ruling party

the use of the word rebelling is to assume an antagonistic stance or demeanor a power play it assumes that I must either attack or defend something that at best can hold my attention only long enough for me to be destroyed by it

remember the panda does not chew on the fist of his foe
remember the only foe the panda faces is the one inside of himself himself

rebelling means that there is acquiescence to the idea the concept that there is a power source outside of me that has right to me
which is false
chewing on that fist will only distract and deplete me and put my foe in charge of my Effort

if I take the idea that I must be or am rebellion into my core then I have already conceded that I am not available to me which is chewing on the fist of the illusion of control and giving my center over to that which is not real

thank you for the conversation
best
mary

This was a wonderful piece. A few years ago I changed careers and have been working through the challenges of the new career and being an entrepreneur. While I have faith that what I'm doing is right for me and that it will all work out as it should, many people have suggested I do something different, something "safe". I'm older, wiser and have seen so many people play it "safe" and not ever realize their secure dreams or to have their lives cut short at a young age. Through this talk Parker and Courtney reminded me to be rebellious, hold fast to what I believe. Thank you!

This was yet another fantastic and inspiring show. I loved the following:
in confusion ... but in community.
Chutzpah and humility

Such valuable and timely insight. It's all too easy for sensitive souls to fall into depressions, self medicate, or bury themselves in work, hiding away like little ostriches. To surround yourself with good community can help you at once maintain resistance but also know when it's ok to surrender and allow yourself to be vulnerable.

Dear Courtney,
Your history is quite similar to mine (I think I'm a year or so older than you; raised & grown in Douglas County, Colorado). Glad to know you exist! Thank you all for the discussion.

It is an inspiring motivator to realize the ease in which one might accept passively and/or actively far too many "labels, critiques, judgements, generalizations, or assumptions"about self if not thoroughly safeguarding the truth,and learn to activate your true identity.

Listened for a second time during the wee hours of the morning - the morning after President Obama's State of the Union address. I didn't want to watch his address as I've been feeling resigned lately. However, my heart doesn't want to give into my cynicism. I heard his HOPE and was moved by his/my stand for our country. Parker Palmer's choice to read Victoria Safford's words on the Gates of Hope speak to me and give me a perspective to take on the day. Thank you all!!!

I was looking for the poem that was referenced by Parker Palmer, I believe the name of the poem was "HOPE". It was beautiful!

I have listened to this interview MANY times on my phone and have forwarded the link to friends and colleagues. Krista, I am a United Methodist clergy, and am deeply grateful for your calling and craft of "On Being" (and all those who help make it happen.) Our world is in desperate need of soulful depth and spiritual community. What a gift you give us through such thoughtful, compassionate conversations. This one with Parker and Courtney is one of my favorite of all times (along with the conversation with one of my main mentors Vincent Harding from when I was a student at Iliff in Denver). It is encouraging and helpful to think of rebellion as "standing in the gap" and "looking for hidden wholeness" (especially since my 14 & 16 year old daughters are natural rebels in need of a cause.) Thanks for the positive spin Courtney and Parker!

As a 37 year-old flower child of two parents who were involved in the anti-war movement of the 60's and radical feminist and anti-racism work of the 80's (I don't know what was happening in the 70's, moving in to houses, getting jobs and having babies I guess) I appreciated both Mr. Palmer's and Ms. Martin's perspectives. It led to me to 2 feelings. One, was a feeling of sadness when I reflected on how the community my family and I at one time felt a part of in this rebellion seemed to fall away when real human things (as opposed to ideals and conviction) like divorce, coming out of the closet, AIDS, and mental illness presented themselves in our lives in the 90's. It seems without virtues like love and compassion in a rebellion, even the rebels can become closed off and exclusive. But the second feeling I had was one of joy and celebration because the idea of rebellion as a force for creativity and contribution rather than cynicism and dismantling is quite appealing to me, inspiring actually.

This blew me away. I love the inter-generational dynamism operating with the wisdom of both ages very much at the centre of the thinking. I can't get enough. Thanks so much.