Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Common Ground is Not the Goal

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Common Ground is Not the Goal

While debriefing Narrative 4 circles I facilitate in and beyond Nashville, I often hear people say things like, “This experience reminds me of how much we all have in common. Most of the time, we’re all focused on all our differences, but we just need to remember that we are all more alike than we are different.”

This is a lovely sentiment, and one that may even be true. But it also might not be. While prioritizing the search for common ground has great use, it also runs the risk of assuming we must do this because difference is bad.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Populate Our Language with Plurals

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Populate Our Language with Plurals

More than once during our month together, I heard Pádraig say, “We need to populate our language with plurals.” Singular language often impoverishes our understanding of issues and ideas.

Populating our language with plurals may help us remember that we are all multitudes. Even the person we think we totally understand—we don’t. Our simple, un-nuanced, stereotypical ways of speaking need always to be further complicated.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: We Need More Villains in Our Stories

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: We Need More Villains in Our Stories

“We need more villains in our stories.” I hear Pádraig’s words as a challenge to listen to how we tell stories. More specifically, how we scapegoat in the way we tell stories.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Political is Personal

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Political is Personal

Everything political is personal for someone. Politics, at its etymological root, has to do with how we organize our lives and affairs with the people we live among. And how we live among each other affects us all in personal ways.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Subjectivity of Reasonableness

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Subjectivity of Reasonableness

“Most people do what seems reasonable to them at the time, most of the time …

It’s not that everyone all the time is being reasonable. That’s obviously not true. It’s that most people are probably doing what they consider reasonable. And even that needs nuancing: “most of the time.” Sometimes, people act in ways that even they can acknowledge are unreasonable. Most of the time, however, it’s likely helpful to assume people behave in ways that make sense to them.”

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: We Need a World that Works for All—Not Just for All for Whom It Works

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: We Need a World that Works for All—Not Just for All for Whom It Works

With that simple phrase, Pádraig named, with a kind of poetry, what so many of us are fighting for: a world that works for all of us, not just for the few for whom it seems to be already working.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Understanding is Not Complicity

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Understanding is Not Complicity

Being able to understand is not the same as justifying, or agreeing with, or supporting. It’s simply being able to get your head around why and how that person, in their context with their story and their pain and their experiences and their relationships and their wiring, might come to think and act as they do. In the end, this is all about empathy.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Importance and Insufficiency of Names

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Importance and Insufficiency of Names

Pádraig helped open this up for me—the importance and insufficiency of names. At once, it does not matter what names we use—because no name can actually hold what it tries to name; and also, it matters entirely what names we use—because our words create and break worlds.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Language is Magic

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Language is Magic

I love that the Bible opens with a story. And even more so, I love that the story is of how everything began with language. God speaks words, and then things are. In the story, it was like magic.

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Introduction to Series

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Introduction to Series

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian, and leader of the Corrymeela Community. From March 1-April 2, I shadowed his work. I want to tell you about what I learned.