People Like Me

"We know we all believe in the same god."I sighed as a couple of friends around the table caught my eye with a knowing look. The new people at last week’s interfaith meeting were introducing themselves, and their use of this tired, inaccurate aphorism was, no doubt, their way of stating that they were in harmony with all the others present. As often as I refer to plural “gods” or say out loud that we are not all the same, I have come to accept that most people cannot hear that message. They d … [Read more...]

Are You Listening To Me?


For many years I have been hired to conduct feasibility studies and community assessments. Without boring you with too much business jargon, I will simply say that 10% of such work is organization, appointments and report-writing, and 90% is listening. When you really, truly listen to people, in such a way that they know you are hearing them, they will tell you some remarkable things. Regardless of why a study is commissioned, each project has been a keen reminder that everything comes back down … [Read more...]

The Linguists’ Principle of Charity


I’m still slowly reading my way through Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Our city discussion group has held two monthly meetings, but yesterday I was reading Step Eight - How We Should Speak. There it was that I learned of something from the field of linguistics, called the principle of charity. The principle says that when someone says something to us which seems strange, we should pause, assume that they hold some piece of truth which might be useful to us, and accept tha … [Read more...]