The journal of the Center for Documentary Arts, a nonprofit initiative to bear witness to suffering and promote the common good through the arts. At the crossroads of art, ethics, faith, and social justice, the Center brings together makers and thinkers whose work advances beauty, compassion, collaboration, dignity, and mercy.

10 January 2011

"What makes us vulnerable makes us beautiful"

Here's a brilliant TED talk by Brene Brownresearch professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, and is now using that work to explore wholeheartedness.  

Dr. Brown's findings go to the heart of compassion. I was sent her talk in preparation for a two-day workshop on Love, Loss, and Forgiveness, founded and facilitated by Michael Murphy. The workshop was an exhilarating and occasionally harrowing excursion into vulnerability and bearing witness, which Dr. Murphy, an early leader in the hospice movement in America, identifies as an act of love. "We need witnesses to heal," he observed. "Our secrets are what kill us." To wholeheartedly bear witness to another's distress is difficult but intimately life-affirming and has implications far beyond the individual. As Brown and Murphy reveal, we cannot feel true compassion for others if we do not have it for ourselves. 


Katie Wilson said...

Hi Tim, since viewing the Brene Brown piece posted above on more than several occasions in preparation for the workshop last weekend, she has quite literally become my hero. It is very possible that she has saved me from thousands of therapy dollars and countless minutes in the couch of the analyst. Here is a link to a slightly shorter piece of hers, also on numbing vulnerability, but she is such a captivating storyteller and the focus, or perhaps audience, slightly shifted.

Practice gratitude, celebrate the everyday, and be enough. What a relief it is at last.

Timothy Cahill said...

Hi Katie, the farther I travel down this road the more wisdom I find in the belief that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. It takes courage to accept ourselves, courage to embrace the unknown, courage to love life-- courage, which as Brene Brown reminds us, is rooted in the heart. The skeptical part of me raises his hand to say, perhaps, but this is line of thinking is not a panacea for all that confronts and plagues mankind. But more and more I am being led to a different belief, that yes it is. Indeed, it is our best hope.

Something beyond the void

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