By Tom Peterson
Just as our most-important muscle, the heart, pumps oxygen and nutrients to the cells in our body, another heart supplies life to our communities. You see this heart in what a people do, especially how they treat others. Acts of heart are often unnoticed: speaking kind words to a lonely person, picking up a piece of litter when no one is looking, or planting a few bushes to help feed migrating butterflies. But sometimes heart must march in the street or speak at a rally through a microphone to help right a great wrong.
Your cause is nothing without people of heart. It might look impressive, but without heart, it’s little more than mechanically moving around the pieces. Good causes succeed when enough people of heart focus on a particular challenge. Driven by their great passion they argue about the best way forward, and then take some steps together. These folks are driven by deeply rooted values like justice, faith, or concern for future generations. Heart reveals itself through truth, love, connection, protection of the vulnerable, peace, wholeness, dignity.
Communities of heart are messy because they’re made up of real people who come with their own quirks. Some are flashy, others are quiet. On some days, they’re gruff and on other days full of acts of kindness. But they understand that the need is great and do what they can.
With your own unique story, gifts, and personality, no one can contribute what you can. But sometimes you may not even sense your own heart’s rhythm. On those days, your courageous act may be simply showing up. To get recharged, hang out with people of heart, go to the meetings. If you can’t find them in your community, find them online or take a road trip. And learn from people of heart who may have lived long ago or in a far-away place. Read their works, read their biographies, watch the documentaries.
Heart is the essential ingredient for humanity itself. Let it power your cause. Like cicadas on a summer evening, a community’s heartbeat becomes a shared rhythm, a drumbeat that leaves us inspired and more resolute.