The very essence of democracy is the absolute faith that while people must cooperate, the first function of democracy, its peculiar gift, is to develop each individual into everything that [one] might be. —Edwin H. Land
Think about the many small communities and groups you are part of—such as families, offices, churches, service clubs, and professional organizations. Do people feel heard, useful, contribute to the well being of the whole? Survey members of these communities or groups to find out who feels disconnected or connected, unheard or heard, invisible or visible. Have a conversation with them. Explore how this community or group could be more democratic. Perhaps authority seems concentrated, leading to silence and passivity. Perhaps the community seems too large, leading to anonymity and apathy.
Then start a larger conversation within your community or group to clarify that organizations of all kinds work better when everyone has responsibility, accountability, voice, and opportunity.
We welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences.
This practice was adapted from the We the People Book Club The Grapes of Wrath Reading Guide. As part of our partnership with our friends at Spirituality & Practice, we are sharing practices to help us all “practice democracy” from the inside out. Visit Spirituality & Practice's The Practicing Democracy Project for more practices and a wide array of resources.