Sometimes when we “tune out” even ourselves, we miss opportunities for a deeper engagement with life. Sometimes when we don’t hear the voices of those who are oppressed, life is diminished. In the song, “Make Them Hear You” from the musical Ragtime, are these lyrics: “Go out and tell our story/Let it echo far and wide/Make them hear you/Make them hear you/How justice was our battle/And how justice was denied/Make them hear you/Make them hear you.”
Our Unitarian and Transcendentalist ancestors engaged in practices that focused their attention on their own spiritual lives, nature and, also, the social concerns of their time. What seemed like only personal development practices actually ignited their awareness of life in all its complexities. We can learn from our religious ancestors as we explore deep listening to ourselves and to our own historical moment. I will draw on some insights from John Buehrens’ new book, Conflagration: How the Transcendentalists Sparked the American Struggle for Racial, Gender, and Social Justice.