Common Ground for Common Good

A blog dedicated to thoughts, ideas, and practices that drive social innovation.

The Heart Can Hear

Republished from the Chico Enterprise-Record Outlook publication published on Feb. 25, 2017

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Let us not seek to tame one another’s hearts but rather seek out the space our hearts share and race there.

History has been a comfort to me in recent days. I suppose my mind has sought evidence of humanity overcoming great obstacles. When history hasn’t provided quite the perspective I’m after I’ve looked to outer space. It calms me to remember we’re all traveling through space on the third planet from the sun – together. It’s hard not to find a deeper breath when I look to the ancient stars and realize just how short our time is here.

However, even with the entire universe in mind, the greatest comfort has been you – so many of you. I’ve been reminded (just as I was when the Great Recession hit) that the human capacity for love and compassion is overwhelming. The vast majority of us want to care for one another, our earth, and its sentient beings. This is true always but especially when times get tough.

And, when I say the vast majority of us, I mean all of us. People of all political views, religious affiliations and belief systems. People who have been feeling optimistic lately and also those with great trepidation. If we look deeply at our true nature it is empathetic and kind!


During my time at the North Valley Community Foundation I’ve worked with hundreds of you to promote goodwill here and around the globe. I’ve watched you take personal tragedy and turn it into positive action. I’ve witnessed you give so much of your own wealth, time and talents to make life better for perfect strangers. I know your hearts. I know how good you are.

I’ve seen firsthand the power of people with opposing views set their own agendas aside to help humankind. This isn’t hyperbole this is my daily reality. The evidence of your goodness is real.

But, I sense, this is not the time to shower you with case studies. The stakes are too high. We have pressing local, national and international challenges to address and the evidence can’t come from the outside.

So, I’d like to offer to you the same practice I offer myself each morning.

‘Today before you share your point of view, see if you can listen to those on your path. Once you’ve listened to them with your entire mind, see if you can listen again with your heart!’

Maybe you’ll see what I’ve been shown time and again. When we start out by listening to one another very quickly we find common ground. When we find common ground it doesn’t take long to find the resources we need to move forward.

It’s not easy but solving problems has never been easy. It is possible however when we listen and move from the heart. And, if we do, I’m convinced the year ahead is bright and our best days are ahead.