Government, Society and Business

October 14th, 2012

This week’s program explores the relationship between business and democracy with two people who have written extensively about what it means to be a leader and a citizen.  Parker Palmer, author of “Healing The Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit,” encourages us to “address the better angels of our nature” through deep listening to those who are different from us, by contributing our own small piece of the solution, and by recognizing the variety of ways we are interconnected, offering us reasons for hope in the midst of heartbreak.  Jacob Needleman explains the different purposes of government and society, suggesting that our responsibility as citizens is the search for conscience and higher meaning.  If we lose this capacity, our society may not survive.  But the ideals of goodness and truth are not dead, and it is through freedom of the mind that we will envision, together, a positive future.   A question to start with: “What is freedom for?”

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Parker Palmer

Parker is a writer, teacher and activist whose work speaks deeply to people in many walks of life. He is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include “A Hidden Wholeness“, “The Courage to Teach,” “To Know as We Are Known,“,  and “Healing the Heart of Democracy.”

He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as eleven honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press. In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named him one of the thirty most influential senior leaders in higher education and one of the ten key agenda-setters of the past decade.

In 2010, he was given the William Rainey Harper Award (previously won by Margaret Mead, Marshall McLuhan, Paulo Freire, and Elie Wiesel). “Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer,” was published in 2005. In 2011, the Utne Reader named him as one of “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”–people who “don’t just think out loud but who walk their talk on a daily basis.” (See the Oct-Nov 2011 print or online edition.)

Jacob Needleman

Jacob Needleman is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, former Visiting Professor at Duxx Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico, and former Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions at The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

He is the author of An Unknown World: Notes on the Meaning of EarthThe Wisdom of Love, Money and the Meaning of Life, A Sense of the Cosmos, The American Soul , and Why Can’t We Be Good? . He was also General Editor of the Penguin Metaphysical Library, a highly acclaimed selection of sixteen reprinted texts dealing with the contemporary search for spiritual ideas and practice.

In addition to his teaching and writing, he serves as a consultant in the fields of business, psychology, education, medical ethics and philanthropy, and is increasingly well known as an organizer and moderator of conferences in these fields. He has also been featured on Bill Moyers’ acclaimed PBS series, “A World of Ideas.” His most recent book “What Is God?,” was published by Tarcher/Putnam in December of 2009.

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