Editors' note: Each of the following topics explores — through a wide range of resources including spiritual practices, articles, blogs, books, book excerpts, films, quotes, and much more — a way to build and polish democracy.

Civility: We need a revival of this rare commodity to lubricate interactions between people, if we hope to bring democracy to its full potential. Discover the power of this antidote to amoral, contentious, and narcissistic behavior.

Empathy: Empathy can strengthen the bonds that make for a stronger democracy. It is an antidote to racism, bullying, and conflicts of all kinds, and it can precipitate the kind of understanding that leads to reforms in the justice and healthcare systems.

Generosity: Generosity is about more than giving an occasional gift. It is a way of life that recognizes our marvelous interconnections, and that's what makes it pertinent to democracy: a focus on quality of life not just for "me, the individual" but for "we, the people."

Poverty: Poverty is a debilitating condition that robs millions of men, women, and children of their dignity. We need to face this omnipresent scourge and remember that when compassionate people and institutions help those in need, democracy shines.

Racism: Racism is a disease in which we project our self-disgust, anger, alienation, and paranoia upon others whom we perceive to be different from us. Democracy, on the other hand, embraces the ideals of ethnic diversity which traditionally have animated our pluralistic society.

Resilience: This spiritual practice allows us to rebound from dire circumstances and come back even stronger. What could be more essential for remaining engaged, optimistic, and geared up to handle the crises democracy faces?

Respect: There are many who claim that we are leaking the precious fuel of respect all around us. Here are tools you can use to rebuild this quality so that every member of our democratic society is protected and valued.