Thursday, August 20, 2009

Parker Palmer on the Rosa Parks Decision

In an interview Parker Palmer speaks not only of individuals choosing to live integrated lives but about what happens on a larger scale when people decide they will no longer live divided lives?

Rosa Parks Decision
“In political/social terms, I call this the Rosa Parks decision. She essentially said, ‘I'm no longer going to behave on the outside as if I were less than the full person I know myself to be on the inside.’

“How do people find the courage to bring inner convictions into harmony with outer acts, knowing the risks involved?

I think in Rosa Parks' story there's a clue: When the police came to Rosa Parks on the bus and informed her that they would have to put her in jail if she did not move, she replied, ‘You may do that.’ It was a very polite way of saying, ‘How could your jail begin to compare with the jail I have had myself in all these years by collaborating with this racist system?’”

“When you realize that you can no longer collaborate in something that violates your own integrity, your understanding of punishment is suddenly transformed.”

Purpose of Communities
Parker Palmer went on to speak of the value of communities:

“The first purpose of these communities is mutual reassurance; people help each other to understand that the ‘normal’ behavior expected by the institutions they are part of can be crazy, but that seeking integrity is always sane.”

“In the movement sparked by Rosa Parks, the Black churches provided gathering places for people who needed to know that they were not alone in choosing an integral life.”

Read more of this fine interview:

Sarah Ruth van Gelder, Integral Life, Integral Teacher-An Interview With Parker Palmer, Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures, 2 November 1998.

Parker Palmer on Living and Teaching with Integrity, Stories for Speakers and Writers (SFS), 12 August 2009.

Rosa Parks and the Power of a Committed Person, SFS, 19 May 2009.

‘Everybody Can Be Great,’ SFS, 15 January 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

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Image: Rosa Parks.