Posted by Mary Ann Brussat on September 12, 2021

Last summer when Black Lives Matter marches were taking place all over the country, the residents of our retirement community were upset. Most of them had been marching for good causes all their lives, but we were in lock-down due to the pandemic and discouraged from mingling in crowds. So they made a big banner to be carried in the march by two younger masked local clergy; residents signed their names on it in lieu of being there themselves.

Of course, there have always been reasons why some of us can't participate in a big demonstration: disabilities, lack of energy due to age or illness, concern about counter-demonstrations and the police, etc. Now the pandemic has further limited engagement.

That's why I'm glad there is more than one way to be an activist,

Posted by Mary Ann Brussat on October 16, 2020

The first time I can remember musicians campaigning for a political candidate, the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary were in a small park in Indianapolis on behalf of Lyndon Johnson. I remember they sang Pete Seeger's "Little Boxes." The song didn't really convey why we ought to vote for Johnson; it was a critique of what had happened to America. Seeger could be patriotic ("This Land Is Your Land") and critical ("Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"). Years later, Bruce Springsteen was mixing praise and lament in such tunes as "Born in the U.S.A." and "Land of Hope and Dreams."

In between those two was Harry Chapin

Posted by Guest Contributor on September 24, 2020

by Diana Butler Bass

I invite you to consider this election season to be like Lent, a time of prayer and practice.

1) Pray daily for some specific issue or candidate.

Prayer takes many forms.

Posted by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat on September 14, 2020

"Humiliation is the most underestimated force in politics and international relations. The poverty of dignity explains so much more behavior than the poverty of money.

"People will absorb hardship, hunger and pain. They will be grateful for jobs, cars and benefits. But if you make people feel humiliated, they will respond with a ferocity unlike any other emotion, or just refuse to lift a finger for you. As Nelson Mandela once observed, 'There is nobody more dangerous than one who has been humiliated.' "

These words are from Thomas L. Friedman . . .

Posted by Frederic Brussat on August 31, 2020

One of the major delights of the voting process in our democracy is the time, energy, and creativity spent on presidential campaign slogans. They're meant to energize and inform the public so that they will choose the man or woman most suited for the highest office in the land.

When it comes to politics, like many other things . . .

Posted by Guest Contributor on August 24, 2020

This post has been contributed by Judith L. Favor, who is rooted and grounded in Quaker tradition and contemplative practice. She is retired from pastoral UCC ministry in San Francisco and teaching at the Claremont School of Theology. She created the "As It Is: Spiritual Journaling" e-course for S&P.

This year I've found myself reflecting in my journal about the meaning of democracy to me. I have turned to some traditional Quaker queries and crafted some of my own as I have explored my feelings about and experiences with my country and its leadership. One query that I suggested in my last blog post is: Which persons or events helped to shape your democratic values? How? It led me to both memories and reflections about what I call "Big-Hearted Democracy."

Big-Hearted Democracy became real for me on the day . . .

Posted by Guest Contributor on August 17, 2020

This post has been contributed by Judith L. Favor, who is rooted and grounded in Quaker tradition and contemplative practice. She is retired from pastoral UCC ministry in San Francisco and teaching at the Claremont School of Theology. She created the "As It Is: Spiritual Journaling" e-course for S&P.

I was first attracted to Quakers during a period of homelessness when Friend Susan Murphy gave me shelter and kitchen privileges. On the refrigerator, with magnets, she posted Advices and Queries from Faith and Practice of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The Advices were a bit too doctrinal for my taste, but the queries fascinated me. The first ones focused on Harmony with Creation:

  • In what ways do I express gratitude for the wondrous expressions of life on Earth?
  • Do I consider the damage I might do to the Earth’s vulnerable systems in choices I make of what I do, what I buy and how I spend my time?
  • In our witness for the global environment, are we careful to consider justice and the well-being of the world’s poorest people?

I stood and reflected on these queries . . .

Posted by Mary Ann Brussat on July 2, 2020

I suppose it's natural to think about what we are not getting from our government; after all, the scientists tell us that the brain has a negativity bias. Taking in the news, we become aware of all the ways our leaders have failed us: in fighting injustice (as the recent Black Lives Matter protests have emphasized), in providing too little too late (as in the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic), and in allocating resources badly (see Reallocating Resources in a Democracy.)

But coming up on the 4th of July weekend, I'm been thinking . . .

Posted by Keziah Grindeland on June 26, 2020

A democracy is supposed to reflect the will of the people. When people vote, speak out at community meetings, or protest, they are responding not only to particular politicians and parties but to the policies they represent and the ones people want instituted. Life in a democracy is about more than love of country and appreciation of the services we receive from the government. It's about deciding how to allocate resources — where the money and other support goes and who benefits from it.

I got to thinking about allocation of resources as I watched . . .

Posted by Keziah Grindeland on June 4, 2020

"People have the right to protest — that’s what democracy is all about."
— Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State

Protests have always been part of movements for justice in the United States. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizens' rights to make their opinions known: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

I am struck by how fitting it is . . .


About This Blog

Democracy is more than a system of government; it is a way of life. We can assess the vitality of a democracy by how well it is serving the people's needs and hopes. But a democracy's health is best reflected in examples of how people practice it through their commitments to shared values and virtues. In this blog, we will present stories of democracy-in-practice. More.