Sunday, 11 December 2005

Democracy's Participants

Who will participate in our democracy, and how deeply?

In an inspirational appearance on PBS's NOW, [full transcript] Francis Moore Lappé reminds us that far more people are active players in our democracy than what is typically suggested by the media. And yet we run the risk of becoming what she calls a "thin democracy" if too many people view their participation as voting (if that) and nothing more.

Some excerpts from her new book Democracy's Edge are published on line, from which I found:
Out of sight of most of us, millions of Americans are satisfying their deep needs for connection with each other and expanding their capacities for effectiveness in the larger world. They are showing us how democracy can become more than a set of unapproachable, distant institutions—how it can become the rewarding way of life I call Living Democracy.

And none too soon!

The indignities and misery of economic insecurity and deepening poverty, the devastation of our ecological home, and the assault on our basic freedoms are of such magnitude that the emerging, more powerful practice of democracy may be our last, best hope.
and this! :
Contemporary social critics see America divided—left versus right, conservative versus liberal, religious versus secular. I disagree and even find these framings destructive. They deflect us from the most critical and perhaps the only division we have to worry about.

It is that between those who believe in democracy—honest dialogue, basic fairness, mutual respect, inclusivity, and reciprocal responsibilities—and those who do not. In the latter category are those willing to put ends over means, violating these core principles in pursuit of an ultimate goal.
Antidemocrats here or abroad include those willing to demonize opponents and even to kill innocent people in pursuit of political power, an idealized future, or a superior afterlife.
This certainly nails one of my most passionate beliefs. Someone who disagrees with me honestly is not my adversary, but rather my partner in an honest search for a better way forward. I can continue to be a liberal, and even sometimes radically so, without viewing conservatism or conservatives as the enemy.

NOW's host David Brancaccio followed his interview with Lappé, with an interview with another of democracy's participants, Diane Wilson, a shrimper from East Texas who confronted corporate abuse of power with effective citizen action. Her book, An Unreasonable Woman, looks to be well worth the read.

1 comment:

lauren said...

Just found your blog via firedoglake and was pleased to see a post about Frankie Lappe's new book and appearance on NOW. I just wrote a post about the same thing. Reading Lappe always makes me feel just a bit more optimistic.

Have you read Hope's Edge? If you are interested in a sustainable democracy related to food/agriculture/farming, it's well worth the read. In it, Lappe and her daughter focus on the hopeful side of interconnection.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you left me nodding in agreement. Thanks for the good post!