Living Arts Weekly: Openness

September 6, 2020

Human morality on Earth depends upon the interest one person takes in another, upon the capability to see into the other person. Those who have the gift of understanding other human beings will receive from this understanding the impulses for a social life imbued with true morality. – Rudolf Steiner (Dornach, 15 Dec 1922)

Hi everyone!  Acacia is taking a week off from the blog to settle into her new home and rhythm with her family, so I (Mary) am back with today’s blog post.

I bought 25 pounds of peaches this week.

The fragrance and sweet taste of fresh peaches is so intoxicating that I tend to go overboard during peach season.  As long as I’m buying peaches, why not get 25 pounds?  Peach pie, peach smoothies, peach cobbler!

Processing peaches for freezing or canning first involves removing the skins.  As I was removing skins (and removing skins, and removing skins, because 25 pounds of peaches is a lot of skins) I was struck by how thin the skin of a peach is and how easily the fruit gets bruised.  I also contemplated the contrast of the hard center pit.

It began to dawn on me that recently I’ve been feeling like these peaches.  The divisive tone of conversations today, especially on social media, has me feeling thin-skinned and a bit hard-hearted. The unknowns that face us as humans are great, and often our tendency is to mask confusion and fear with righteousness and anger.  My own personal work has been to toughen up a little bit on the outside so the barbs of others don’t sting so much, while softening my center to remain open to new ideas and other perspectives. My friend, Bridget, recently shared that her own personal work is to not choose sides, but instead to become firmly rooted in the less popular middle ground, the only place she feels like we can begin a productive dialogue. What is your personal inner work right now?

Most of our inner journeys will benefit from our sincere effort to become more open-minded.  Boy, what a tough challenge in these times! It requires me, first and foremost, to inventory who is in my echo chamber.  Am I surrounding myself with people who think just like me so I don’t have to do the uncomfortable work of learning from others with differing views?  It requires me to examine my own hypocrisy.  It also urges me to spend real time in conversation with my “others.”  When we disagree with people, we tend to objectify them.  We create a whole story about who they are and why they are so poorly informed, unintelligent or just plain mean. When I actually do the diligent work of examining my assumptions and truly listening, I usually realize we share more common ground that I imagined.

Practicing open-mindedness requires me to confront my deepest fears of rejection and alienation.  Embracing differences at a genuinely open level is not for the faint of heart. It’s certainly work worth doing, especially now.  People who differ from us reveal who we are. When we insult them, shout them down, or make snap judgments about them we stop growing. And humanity needs all of us to keep growing right now.

Rudolf Steiner offered six basic exercises for spiritual development.  The fifth exercise is open-mindedness.  Here is a good article by Joop van Dam about the open-mindedness exercise.  Won’t you join me in doing the hard work of practicing open-mindedness?

We’ve got some great learning opportunities beginning this month at LifeWays North America!

Starting September 9th, our yearlong LifeWays Fundamentals Course (financial assistance available for students who need help to be able to enroll.)

LifeWays Early Childhood Fundamentals Course

Starting September 16th, our popular course that examines human development through the lens of the four primary senses. This is a wonderful course for early childhood caregivers and teachers!

And, for all you parents at home with young children or school age children who are homeschooling or distance learning, Rahima’s course “Home with Kids?!” offers real support and guidance that will help. It also starts on September 16th!