Healing the Heart of Democracy Hub

Explore habits and tools that can help us restore the foundations of democracy

Thank you for your interest in Healing the Heart of Democracy—the idea as well as the book—and for your desire to dive deeper into it with a group, on your own, or both. Throughout the book, Parker J. Palmer looks with realism and hope at how to deal with our political tensions for the sake of the common good. We hope that the resources below will encourage people like you to participate more actively in our democracy so that together we can create “a politics worthy of the human spirit.”

Download the Healing the Heart of Democracy Discussion Guide

In this Discussion Guide, you’ll find a rich collection of resources for exploring the themes that run through Healing the Heart of Democracy. These include:

  • Brief quotations from: (a) the book; (b) related online videos; and (c) a handout titled “Five Habits of the Heart That Help Make Democracy Possible.” All of these are accompanied by questions to help focus the discussion.
  • Links to thirty-two brief online videos of Parker Palmer speaking about particular topics. These videos will help group participants feel more directly in dialogue with the author.
  • Links to six brief online videos of Parker exploring a question with his friend and colleague, singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, followed by Carrie singing one of her songs that relates to that question. Music adds a vital dimension to any exploration of our fears and hopes, taking us to depths that words alone can’t reach.

This guide offers a rich collection of resources for individuals and groups. If you are planning to hold a discussion group, we invite you to look through all of these resources to choose those that strike you as best
suited for your group’s participants.

Habits of the Heart

The Five Habits of the Heart that Help Make Democracy Possible

“Habits of the heart” (a phrase coined by Alexis de Tocqueville) are deeply ingrained ways of seeing, being, and responding to life that involve our minds, our emotions, our self-images, our concepts of meaning and purpose.

About the Book

Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker J. Palmer quickens our instinct to seek the common good and gives us the tools to do it. This timely, courageous and practical work—intensely personal as well as political—is not about them, “those people” in Washington D.C., or in our state capitals, on whom we blame our political problems. It’s about us, “We the People,” and what we can do in everyday settings like families, neighborhoods, classrooms, congregations and workplaces to resist divide-and-conquer politics and restore a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

In the same compelling, inspiring prose that has made him a bestselling author, Palmer explores five “habits of the heart” that can help us restore democracy’s foundations as we nurture them in ourselves and each other:

  • An understanding that we are all in this together
  • An appreciation of the value of “otherness”
  • An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways
  • A sense of personal voice and agency
  • A capacity to create community

Healing the Heart of Democracy is an eloquent and empowering call for “We the People” to reclaim our democracy. The online journal Democracy & Education called it “one of the most important books of the early 21st Century.” And Publishers Weekly, in a Starred Review, said “This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience that will benefit from discussing it.”