What is Heart Politics ?

    ... you'll get as many answers to this question,
    as there are people at our gatherings.
    This is one way of responding to the question ...

    • HEART POLITICS is about the transformation that can occur when social and political change happens in tandem with personal change. Many of our political and social problems will not be solved at the same level of thinking that has caused these problems. We must make a fundamental shift in consciousness in order to find solutions to these problems. This fundamental change in consciousness comes from our hearts.

    • HEART POLITICS strategies emphasise the building of deeper connections between people who are otherwise divided over particular political or social issues. It looks for strategies and ways of working that are beyond the "them versus us" or " right versus left " polarities of present politics. It seeks to bring the heart qualities of goodwill, co-operation and integrity into the decisions of power holders and governments of our communities.

      Many people involved in Heart Politics are not interested in running for any form of public office -- they are more likely to be taking direct action in a particular field. This direct action may be in employment, health, housing, all sorts of education initiatives, parenting, environmental action, anti-racism, anti-nuclear, peace groups or whatever.

      The present political landscape is not about values that come from the human heart. This has led to cynicism in leadership and the lack of involvement in "followership" that exists in community affairs. While there is no doubt that the democratic system we have is better than the political system endured by our ancestors, there are still many shadows within our democracies today... shadows that hide the real workings of power, and shadows that are preventing work for the common good.

    • HEART POLITICS is the exercise of power from a basis of connection with people. It's about having power with people rather than over people. Our world is full of examples of power that is power over people ... power taken by some people who know a lot and thereby rule over ordinary people. This dominating style of power exercised by power holders works only for the few and cannot be tolerated because of its effects on people and the environment.

      Having power with people means sharing power, so that everyone who is involved can have the knowledge of what's going on and what the choices are ... and participating in social changes that are necessary. This doesn't mean having long meetings where everybody has to decide the details of everything. It means that our leadership should be based on greater openness. It should be based on an openness to more criticism and dialogue throughout the whole decision-making process. Heart Politics involves making the people connections so that we can all fully participate in such a dialogue and decision making.

    • HEART POLITICS is about empowerment. We can't get involved with the processes of power unless we also feel a real sense of ownership and control over the political processes involved. Empowerment is important because we do live in tough critical times in terms of economic and environmental issues. There's no way that we're going to really make a difference unless the power to make changes is spread around.

    • HEART POLITICS is about choosing for the common good, in the interests of all affected, not for the good of the most wealthy or the most aggressively powerful. It is about empowering the ordinary person and the community to participate in the creation of change in their own place.

      For instance New Zealand, Australia and the United States have experienced deep social and economic changes over the last ten years. But as we have compared notes (at Heart Politics gatherings), it is very clear that these changes have benefited the most wealthy and economically aggressive. The social and economic changes of the last ten years have failed the test of being for "the common good", e.g. they have greatly increased the gap between rich and poor.

    • HEART POLITICS connects the information in our heads to the feelings in our hearts. Heart politicians question deeply both what they think and feel when they are in a position of leadership or are planning for changes or evaluating a policy.

      Historically, people have not put much attention into what it means to practise politics from the heart. It seems many people have given up the idea that politics could ever be driven by deeper values than just self interest and personal power or the lust for political position. To dare to bring heart qualities into the political arena holds a fascination for even the most cynical.

    • HEART POLITICS is deeply non-violent. It has its roots in an historical base of political leaders who led by non violence: Ghandi in India, Martin Luther King in the US and Te Whiti-o- Rongomai in New Zealand.

      Heart Politics values patience. It is about slowly changing the world. This is because in many areas of human suffering we don't have time to change quickly. A quick and forced change in human affairs often brings with it a whole series of after shocks and back-lashes and continued re-structuring that often only prolongs the suffering it was trying to alleviate. It is a slower, more effective change if it is forged by a solid weaving of connections between all the people involved.

      To be effective Heart Politicians we need to be able to have a relationship with those adversely affected by political decisions and also a relationship with those presently in power. It is in this way that we can help the most powerful people in the land see the full "heart" implications of the decisions that they are making.

    • HEART POLITICS contains the potential for a maturation of what we mean by "heart". We need a maturation of our emotional response to the problems of the world. Many people, in their desire to escape the real pain and darkness of our times, take refuge in some soft warm heart space and divorce themselves from the real pains that are in the world. That's not the "heart" we need for the political work of our times.

      The heart we need is a heart that is not lost to feelings of intimacy, or vulnerability, or a real sense of compassion. It is also a tough heart ... a warrior's heart, a heart that is not just feeling but also allows wisdom and judgement, a heart that takes courage in doing difficult things and that knows when to be fierce.

    • HEART POLITICS is about learning and sharing wisdom from our work for change. Many people are looking for a very different style of change that comes from deeper values and is in line with their values.

      Within our struggles, we are learning important wisdom on how to act for change in the 90's ... and act with integrity from our deeper values at the same time. This is important "wisdom in progress".

    Adapted by Simon Clough from "WHAT IS HEART POLITICS?"
    section of a booklet called
    (1993) by Fran Peavey and Vivian Hutchinson.

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