Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fixing Democracy, Part 5

This is the next in a series of posts on how to make our democracy work better based on an article in The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode) by Tom Atlee.

“As with trial juries, they speak with the voice of the whole—both symbolically and, if the are convened properly, actually. They become not only lay experts on the issue but an informed, deliberative microcosm of the whole public.  They speak with a certain legitimate authority about what the citizenry would want if everyone could and would engage in comparably sophisticated act of collective citizenship.


“Interestingly, a community of people (whether a group, a company, a town or a nation) is better equipped to be wise than an individual.  As individuals, we are inherently more limited than a community. Although we can consult books, friends and critics, in the end we are limited to our own single perspective.  We are, alas, only one person, looking at the world from one place, one history and one pattern of knowing. A community, on the other hand, can see things through many eyes, many histories and many ways of knowing.  The question is whether it dismisses or creatively utilizes and integrates that diversity.


“Communities are wise to the extent that they use diversity well, in a cooperative, creative interplay of viewpoints that allows the wisest, most comprehensive and powerful truths to emerge. The more we know how to nurture and use the rich diversity of individual views and capabilities within our society, the more wise and democratic our society will be. We will resist small-minded leadership and even the dictatorship of the majority. We will cherish dissent as a wise individual cherishes doubt, as a door to deeper understanding.”

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