All posts by David Bruno

simplifier | entrepreneur | instructor | author | I light up when I can inspire human flourishing

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Civil Language Project

The language of division tries to get enough people hostile toward enough other people so that the provocateur gains power. Too many in the political class, too many faith-based leaders and faithless skeptics, too many wealthy bosses and elite technocrats speak this language of division. Far too many average citizens speak it, too. If it goes on, eventually each person will have gained just enough power to be everyone else’s enemy. We must not tolerate such a hell on earth.

There is a better language out there. People are using it and flourishing. Rather than division and power, it seeks out unity and love. We need to rediscover that language and speak it with urgency and power.

Over the next few days with the help of others I am going to attempt to launch the Civil Language Project. Please consider participating.




Two days, two more videos of two more police officers shooting black men. There has been and will continue to be all kinds of reactions. Injustice. Lament. Anger. We can only hope that some day there will be repentance and forgiveness. Nothing short of a miracle is needed for grace to find its way into these tragedies.

My feeling is one of emptiness. Particularly, we in the United States experience leadership emptiness. As injustice rolls on, leadership is empty. Missing. It is as if there are two games happening. The country is playing the game of the century, struggling to win with blood, sweat and tears. The national leadership is not playing down on the same field or coaching from the sidelines or even cheering in the stands; the national leadership is far away in a smokey room playing strip poker, betting with hedged fortunes in a high-stakes game for media coverage and power grabs.

Game on. Syria and much of the Middle East are coming apart. Millions of humans are suffering. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying. Europe is breaking at the seams. Russia is opportunistic. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has only his boxer briefs left on. Donald Trump just doubled down, defending his use of the Star of David in an attack ad against Hillary Clinton. Ryan folds, in attempt to protect his last chip, unwinding Obamacare, because that’s winning the game. Right?

I fully recognize my naiveté. Yet for the life of me, I cannot understand why in the United States there is no leader on the order of Lincoln or Roosevelt or Eisenhower or Kennedy willing to set up right now.

That is my gripe. But I want to end on a more positive note.

Humans flourish. Even in the bad times, people are remarkable. Grief is remarkable. Forgiveness is remarkable. Like the numbers of stars in the night sky, everywhere we look on earth there are lights shining in human acts of kindness and celebration and creativity. I confess I do not look at the marvel of the night sky as often as I want to and should. Neither do I turn my attention enough to the bright lights of human flourishing.

My sense is not so much that we need new things. New stuff. New legislation. New programs. New bureaucracies. New technologies. Rather, we need to amplify the flourishing already happening all around us.

When we respond to challenges by first assuming the fix involves adding something new, we miss an opportunity to amplify an existing solution. We live in a time of muted answers, quieted flourishing. I will have more to say about this soon.


No Competition for Love

Never do I pick up a book written by Henri Nouwen without being refreshed and challenged. Mostly, refreshed. A few weeks back at a library book sale, we ran across a fine copy of Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World. It is a small book, written in a personal tone to a friend of Nouwen’s, a secular Jewish man who asked him to write a spiritual book for him and his secular friends. The result reads well, not just for secular Manhattanites, but also for seasoned believers. In fact, while no doubt this book would speak with sensitivity and boldness to non-believers, I am personally finding it does just the same for me. Spiritual truth does not fit only one audience, though perhaps different audiences ingest spiritual truth in different ways.

Among other things, Nouwen was known for leaving a prestigious career in academia to minister at Daybreak, a home for the handicapped. He tells a story of Helen, who when she came to Daybreak did not open up to Nouwen or the rest of the community. It took time for her to come out of her shell, and this is how Nouwen describes it.

I now realize that I had to be in touch with my own goodness to discover the unique goodness of Helen. As long as my self-doubts and fears guided me, I couldn’t create the space for Helen to reveal to me her beauty. But once I claimed my own chosenness, I could be with Helen as a person who had much, very much, to offer me. It is impossible to compete for God’s love. God’s love is a love that includes all people –– each one in his or her uniqueness. It is only when we have claimed our own place in God’s love that we can experience this all-embracing, non-competing love and feel safe, not only with God, but also with all our brothers and sisters.

I am drawn to the idea of creating space where others can flourish. Nouwen created space for Helen to reveal her beauty. Her beauty was already there. This is indeed the circumstance we too often find ourselves in. We are in the presence of another person who has so much to offer but no space in which to let it out. How wonderful to be a space maker! A person who creates (I might prefer to say, “co-creates”) the space in which others flourish.