Democracy and Freedom

Democracy and Freedom

July 9th, 2012 (No Comments)

Here at Stonehaven we celebrated July 4th with a Global Picnic with 80 guests representing 52 countries (of origin or parental origin) Our Devon inter-faith group, our neighbors, and the board of the Dialogue Institute welcomed 19 Middle Eastern students here on a grant from the State Department.

We relished platefuls of international delicacies, and thoughtful  music in Arabic and English from Farah Siraj, but above all we enjoyed the joyful privilege of meeting together – united under the common purpose of the  freedom to dialogue and play together as human beings.


What a gift we have as American citizens to meet freely and celebrate diversity, yet how often  we huddle in tribal enclaves or houses of  religious identity.  That evening was a phenomenal gift – to relish our global commonality, where ultimately we found out (as always), that we are all more alike than different.



Stonehaven is our home and we have offered it to God as a place for reflective conversation in community and also a place for solitude. Stonehaven is a place to listen to the voice of nature that speaks to our deepest soul. We continue to create this sacred space with a lot of blood, sweat and tears but fundamentally this property is dedicated to paying attention to the heart of what truly matters in life. Thus, after Farah sang, just as the fireflies were starting to pop, we invited the group to meet in small groups and consider a few provocative questions. We hoped to stir the pot with more intentional conversation – and it worked!


1)      Introduce yourself by telling us how you celebrate personal freedom in your life, or tell a short story of a place or a situation that comes to your mind when you think of freedom.

2)      What global aspect of freedom would you like to offer to your grandchildren?

3)      How do you make meaning of the conflict and tension inherent in holding both personal independence and communal connections?  How do you work out the limits of individual freedom in light of the need for the common good?

I invite you to try to answer these questions yourself. Like one young woman from Saudi Arabia said to me later, “I thought I knew my answer to what freedom means to me, but when I started talking I surprised myself. It was like  I was saying things I knew, but  had never really spoken – I had so much to say.”

The Inner Teacher in each of our lives delights in the opportunity to speak!

If this topic challenges you to do some more thinking, check out Parker Palmer’s new Huffington Post 4th July blog 

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