We’ve been reflecting on the role of tension in society. On one hand, tension has the power and potential for good when it is held creatively in a healthy society; on the other hand, tension can lead to violence in a society that, for any number of reasons (material want, or historical enmity between competing groups, for example) is less resilient. Tension means that there is some kind of conflict. Conflict can drive adaptive responses that lead to growth and learning, or it can lead to levels of inflicted pain on others, that cycle through generations.
Parker Palmer– author, educator, and activist– has this to say about creative tension:
“In the end, the challenge faced by adherents of every tradition of faith or reason is the same one we face in our public lives: to let the stranger– and things we find strange– be who and what they are, allowing them to open us to the vexing and enlivening mysteries we find within and around us. Whether our Ultimate Reality is God or Reason, fear constantly tempts us to try to tame it and contain it within the boundaries of our comfort zones. Doing so dishonors the Ultimate, diminishes the scope of our lives, and keeps us from developing a key habit of the heart that democracy requires.”
— from Healing the Heart of Democracy (p. 150)
via Parker J. Palmer.