Wisdom from Henri Nouwen

We cannot change the world by a new plan, project, or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice and proposals, but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations and preoccupations and listen with attention and care to the voices speaking in their own center. —HENRI NOUWEN

Nepo, Mark. The Exquisite Risk (p. 2). Harmony/Rodale. Kindle Edition.

14 thoughts on “Wisdom from Henri Nouwen

  1. 11/05/2022 “…but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations and preoccupations and listen with attention…” Disarm themselves? Lay aside their occupations & preoccupations and listen with attention? Sounds like the age old version of “I know, You don’t”. I did not find this so much inspiring as condescending.

    1. I’m sorry it struck you that way. For me what he describes is a classic method of holding open space for hearing one another. In today’s climate, political and otherwise, we seem only too quick to seek to diminish those who disagree with us. At its extreme, this manifests in cancel culture. I find that a most toxic pattern. If we could but listen openly and fully, we might correct the trend.

      1. 11/07/2022
        “… If we could but listen openly and fully, we might correct the trend. ”

        “IF” is the key word here. Those that watch cable or other NEWS outlets see the many demonstrations at various College’s & University’s where certain viewpoints are blocked from being expressed. We KNOW that certain Social Networks also censor postings from certain political groups. The street violence clearly demonstrates not only closed mindedness of certain groups but their willingness to use any & all means to shut down those that express opposite views. It will take far more than you or I to ” correct the trend”.

        For me and others, the FIRST thing we must have, and the word MUST is used deliberately, is to have Law & Order throughout the USA and prosecute, convict and imprison those that engage in criminal activity. Stop this insanity of looking back hundreds of years and trying to enact revenge on people that happen to belong to the same ethnic or religious group as those that actually committed the crimes.

  2. Ed, I can hear that you carry a lot of anger – as so many people do these days. Perhaps you could contemplate that everyone has both good ideas and bad, suggestions that will work and suggestions that won’t work. Consider, too, that the more people required to pull off a conspiracy the less likely it is real. We have all had those occasions where we couldn’t get even one other person to agree on a course of action for a simple problem. If you’ve ever come across three men standing in front of a car with an open hood but doing nothing, you know agreement is difficult.

    I believe I agree with you about reparations not being the answer to anything. Looking back doesn’t solve anything and only tends to reopen old wounds. It’s much more important to look forward and to work together to solve our problems. That being said, those who would discount the opinions of anyone not belonging to “their” group really aren’t much different that those men in front of the broken down car. The more this country fragments by people insisting that theirs is the only valid path, the further from solutions we move.

    1. 11/07/2022
      “…I can hear that you carry a lot of anger – as so many people do these days…”
      This is a typical response and I find it insulting. There is no anger but there IS resentment. The “Left”, Climate Activists and certain “minorities” have dominated the stage and shut out, shouted down and prevented others from expressing their views. Should these groups not be satisfied, they resort to violence, destruction of personal & public property and like with the Roe vs Wade concerns, threaten the well-being of Supreme Court Justices.

      Until we allow Law Enforcement to do their job and completely stop abusive & destructive behavior that is used to shut down dialog, NOTHING will change. Currently, the “left” and all its variations are thugs at this point in time.


      1. In all honesty, when resentment calls for the mass arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of whole groups of people, that’s anger. You can call it a tomato if you life, but it’s still anger. Further evidence of anger is grouping people into two camps and automatically holding those in your camp in high regard and dismissing the other my attributing to him insincere and/or dangerous motivation. Sweeping generalizations tend to be counter-productive. You seek a solution, but you want to impose your solution on everyone. You are clearly afraid (call it what you will) of a perceived lawlessness that politicians have been pedaling for decades now. That’s a lawlessness not based on facts over the long haul. Sound bites, talking points, and other similar snippets don’t lead to dialogue. They are intended to end it. In my opinion, there is no progress down that path. If a white politician is running against a black politician, the white politician paints the black politician as “soft on crime” while still claiming to not be racist. Politicians on both sides of the aisle take moments in time from the lives of their opponents and try to paint those moments as being the totality of their lives. None of this is sound reasoning, none of it would get a passing mark in a debate class, but people sling it like it is gospel. It’s not, and it’s dishonest.

      2. Working backwards: “…None of this is sound reasoning, none of it would get a passing mark in a debate class, but people sling it like it is gospel. It’s not, and it’s dishonest…” Ad Hominem’s are characteristic of Liberals. Wanting Law & order throughout the USA is neither radical or wanting “mass arrest”. During 2020 & 2021 we observed violence, arson, looting & assaults being passed off as “Peaceful Protesting”. This is a blatant untruth. There is nothing dishonest about wanting a safe environment for ALL people. The only way to achieve this is by allowing our Law Enforcement Professionals to do their job AND to prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law. It appears that you either do not or choose not to understand this simple concept.

  3. Oh my goodness, Ed. I’m sure you know that an ad hominem argument is fallacious because it attacks the person rather that the argument. What I said was addressed to the argument. Ironically, you countered with an authentic ad hominem when you wrote that I do not or choose not to understand a simple concept. There’s also a bit of a reductio any time we reduce large populations into two camps.

    Let’s get back to what you think is needed. You seem to feel that law enforcement is being impeded from arresting and the courts from prosecuting people involved in the protests after the murder of George Floyd. I assume this because you mention 2020 and 2021. You seem to feel that the civil unrest of that period should have been met with more arrests and prosecutions. If I am wrong about this, please tell me.

    Whatever the case, we are nearing the end of 2022. Since we cannot go back and change the past, what do you think needs to be done currently? You seem to be in favor of incarcerating more people. Who specifically would you incarcerate? Please be more specific than criminals. Also please know that according to the website federalregister.gov, the cost of incarcerating someone is just under $108 per day. How should we pay for that cost?

    1. 11/08/2022: Today, the American Voters will chose the politicians that will best servc the interests of this Nation on a Federal and State level. The outcome, like it or not, will determine whether our Country will be Safe & Prosperous.

      2020 & 2021 were excellent examples on how Law Enforcement was hampered by politicians and social activists in protecting people and property. Criminals were recast as being victims and people that broke the law were treated as Saints. Riots, violence, looting, arson and killing were rebranded as “Peaceful Protests”. The number of people held responsible for this destruction is minimum.

      Yes, we must lock up those that will not obey our laws and pose a threat to other citizens. We need MORE prisons and FAR longer sentences. This is probably a more popular view than most people will openly admit. Sadly, a criminal is looked at by race, religion, gender (one of 47) BEFORE their activities that lead to a conviction. There is sympathy for the criminal IF a particular ethnic or gender group is convicted. Race, religiong & geneder should never be considered. Current no-cash-bail is an example of insanity in that statistics clearly show that those released commit crimes again.

      Regarding the cost of imprisonment, this is the cost of Safety and Peace for the American Public. We send $Billions to 3rd World Nations annually that would be better spent within the USA. We need to stop the hand-outs.

      My position is crystal clear and I am curious as to what benefit this “conversation” will have.

      Do YOU feel that this Country is on the right path regarding Law Enforcement and protecting the public?

  4. Ed, there are several things that stand out about your comments. One us that you operate in the realm of generalities rather than specifics. It’s an effective strategy to avoid being proven wrong, but it’s ineffective at proving anything. I find you to be very frightened, and that fear leads you to yearn for a totalitarian state that locks people up at a frantic pace. What you want is Russia here in the United States. Underneath your arguments is a clear fear of non-whites, and that fear is so pervasive that reason is ineffective. I have tried to engage you in civilized conversation. You respond by returning to Tucker Carlson talking points repeatedly. There is no responding to talking points, they are made to avoid discussion. It’s pointless to continue our dialogue because you aren’t interested in a thoughtful exchange of ideas. I wish you well.

    1. 11/08/2022
      I considered this a good exercise since to me, it shows your inability to stick to the particulars of a discussion.

      “… I find you to be very frightened, and that fear leads you to yearn for a totalitarian state that locks people up at a frantic pace…”
      This is particularly funny. I have nothing to fear in particular and have said NOTHING about a Totalitarian State. Law & Order is essential for any Nation.

      “… What you want is Russia here in the United States…”
      No, I do not. I know enough about Russian History to not want anything even similar to that government style…”

      “… Underneath your arguments is a clear fear of non-whites, and that fear is so pervasive that reason is ineffective…” No again. This is projection on your part.

      People, like me, that embrace Law & Order know that it needs to be applied to everyone equally. It must be blond to color, race.religion & gender.

      Should you block me from your end I will neither be surprised nor offended. Liberals tend to paint attributes onto anyone that disagrees with them. Spiritual types, like you appear to be, have a particularly condescending attitude towards anyone that doesn’t march in lockstep with your particular tune.

      I am watching today’s election results and so far, it appears that Americans want a change. We are concerned with Crime, the Economy and the obvious corruption in the current administration. Clearly, change is coming AND this is how a Democracy operates.

      1. Here’s the problem, Ed. You have offered only generalization and opinion. Do you have any facts, any data that support your opinion? Saying that everyone wants law and order is a meaningless statement unless you can (1) define law and order, and (2) offer evidence that substantiated that your definition is what “everyone” wants. Let’s do this one issue at a time, since that’s what you prefer. I’ll wait.

      2. Ed, you have gone silent. The midterms didn’t provide the red wave you expected. Meanwhile, I am waiting for actual data from you to support your positions. I am beginning to think you can’t offer any. Actually I have always thought that, mostly because there isn’t any. Objectivity always trumps (pun intended) subjectivity.

  5. Ed, you wanted me to stick to one point at a time, so I am doing that. Watching the news is not citing research. I have to assume you cannot cite any data because you can’t find any. Moreover, you are a troll, and I don’t tolerate trolls.

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