The word "democracy" can be traced back to the Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos "the people" + -kratia "power, rule." The people rule — but what kind of people? If most people who make up a democracy are immature, selfish, foolish, or cruel, their rule will reflect these qualities. A thriving democracy depends on people who care about polishing their character for the sake of a greater whole.
Posted by Keziah Grindeland on February 17, 2020
I first began listening to podcasts in the fall of 2015 and a favorite soon became Invisibilia, which “explore[s] the invisible forces that shape human behavior — things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” While I can’t recommend Invisibilia enough as a whole, I was completely blown away by one episode in particular and have found myself reflecting on it for nearly five years since.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on February 10, 2020
Generally, when I consider online conversations, I think of stark polarization and echo chambers — people harshly judging others across differences or just connecting with those who are similar to them and re-affirming what they have to say. I was surprised by my experience of participating in an online conversation through “Living Room Conversations,” as it was neither of those things.
Posted by Jay McDaniel on February 3, 2020
I’m not sure about the future of democracy, but I do believe in moments of democracy.
A moment of democracy may last only for five seconds, but its memory lingers in our imaginations for many weeks, a year, or a lifetime. It is a moment when we hear others on their own terms, for their own sakes. Even as we may find some of their attitudes -- about race and class and gender, for example -- completely reprehensible. Even as we may disagree completely with their politics. Even as we may sense in them a hostility, an anger, that frightens us. We may sense that beneath the anger there is a pain, but we don’t know what it is. We know their rage but not their pain.
Posted by Aizaiah Yong on January 27, 2020
I first met Victor Akioyame when we worked together in the student affairs office at a small liberal arts university in California. We became close friends due to our shared interests and passion for diversity, inclusion, and conversations on spirituality. Victor is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention and works as a student life professional at Vanguard University (VU) in Costa Mesa, California, where he ministers to students, staff, and faculty.
Posted by Guest Contributor on January 20, 2020
This post has been contributed by Susan Strouse, a retired Lutheran minister who is author of The INTRAfaith Conversation and an organizer of an initiative called Hearts Across the Divide: Reclaiming Civil Discourse. She hopes to submit a second post about this initiative in Spring 2020, after the final stage of their program.
Is it possible to have a civil conversation with your political polar opposite? From personal experience I know that it is. I feel so strongly about this that I, along with another organizer, began an initiative called Hearts Across the Divide: Reclaiming Civil Discourse. Our goal is to bring together two groups from the San Francisco Bay Area — one on the political left and one on the right — for training, facilitated dialogue, relationship-building, and hopefully restoration of civil discourse, at least in our little part of the world.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on January 13, 2020
When I first moved to Berkeley, California, almost three years ago, someone told me about the NextDoor app. I signed up right away and soon discovered that it is a great way to connect with your neighbors. People post about free lemons and plant cuttings. They request help with odd jobs like weeding. They share details about upcoming events like community open mic nights and movies in the park. People generously responded when I asked to borrow some snowshoes (for a trip). And there are, sadly, many posts about missing (but also some found!) pets.
Posted by Margaret Wakeley on January 6, 2020
Societies depend on dialogue to function well. These days social media allows us to talk more than ever, but often that means declaring our opinions: talking "at" instead of "to" others. This approach leads to further alienation.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 30, 2019
On December 12, 2019 the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted a “Democracy Fair and Comedy Night” at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. The event began with a fair that featured a variety of community organizations including the ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the San Francisco Department of Elections, the Sierra Club, and the Practicing Democracy Project (represented by me!).
Posted by Aizaiah Yong on December 23, 2019
Practicing democracy in a diverse community does not need to be stressful or tense. At the small apartment complex in Southern California where I live, 19 residents engaged in enjoyable practices rooted in kindness and hospitality. Together we reflected on what it means to live in community with shared resources and to imagine taking committed actions for the common good of all.
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.