I am in one of my book manic modes. I go in cycles of reading. Some times I read a ton, some times I feel like it has been a year since I opened one. Well, I am in one of those where I can’t get enough of the printed word. I just finished a book that my dear wife gave me several months ago entitled, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future by Margaret Wheatley. I had previously read Wheatley’s Leadership and the New Science, so I was a bit surprised by the content of this book. It is a very different read. It does not mean that’s a bad thing, but it is a very different book. Wheatley’s book is a wonderful encouraging read in that it does help to get the reader thinking about how having hope in the future is a conscious act. In the midst of stories of earthquakes, economic challenges, partisan gridlock, and so forth, it is very easy to live in fear and hopelessness. Wheatley reminds us of the necessity of looking to the future with hopeful eyes about what is possible and what can be changed and how we have a role as a part of that hopeful future.
The book is not a “normal” book in that you simply read it cover to cover and put it away. Instead, she provides ways for people to start a conversation about the topics at hand and encourages people to read these together and work through them together. She begins with words about what it means to turn to one another as she focuses on the art of listening – how to listen, how to talk, how to be courageous in sharing, and how to listen with a willingness to be changed by the encounter with the other(s).
The main section of the book are the areas of conversation and she offers ten questions to consider…
- Do I feel a vocation to be fully human?
- What is my faith in the future?
- What do I believe about others?
- What am I willing to notice in my world?
- When have I experienced good listening?
- Am I willing to reclaim time to think?
- What is the relationship I want with the earth?
- What is my unique contribution to the whole?
- When have I experienced working for the common good?
- When do I experience sacred?
As I read these questions and the thoughts Wheatley offers from her own perspective, I began to think about a series of posts that I will do over the coming weeks/months on these topics. It won’t be every week, but I am going to consider my own answers to each of these and invite you to be a part of the conversation.
Wheatley’s thesis of the book is stated simply and succinctly…”We can change the world if we just start listening to one another again.”
As I read Wheatley’s words, I am reminded of one of my core Scripture passages for my life – Jeremiah 29:11
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.