In the rending of our society and politics into ever more deeply opposing camps, “… we have somehow found ourselves in an era where even the brightest, kindest, most idealistic people spring to judgment … in a heart-flinch. Questions invite instant opinions more often than they invite conversation and contemplation ….” That’s how Maria Popova describes our current state of existence, commenting on John O’Donohue’s observation that “Every human person is inevitably involved with two worlds: the world they carry within them and the world that is out there. All thinking, all writing, all action, all creation and all destruction is about that bridge between the two worlds.”
Upon bridging these two worlds depends not only our growth into wholeness as individuals and as any community but the very survival of our humanity. In our maturing, we come to recognize the essential relatedness of all our apparently self-contradictory fragments, a truth Walt Whitman expressed in his poem “Song of Myself”: “Do I contradict myself? / Very well, then, I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.).” Popova concludes with this observation: “To reclaim the beauty of the multitudes we each contain, we must break free of the prison of our fragments and meet one another as whole persons full of wonder unblunted by identity-template and expectation.”
We will grow into harmony of life with one another only to the extent our own fragmented selves are reintegrated into their original harmony, and the fragmentation growing in our society indicates just how deeply and tragically divided we are within ourselves and how far we have to go.
Read Maria Popova’s full column here.