Practicing Democracy Project

Democracy is more than the system of government. It is a way of life based on our commitment as citizens to the common good. We can assess the vitality of any democracy by looking at its history, its current state, and its potential to serve the hopes and dreams of its people. But the truest measure of its health is how well it is practiced.

The Practicing Democracy Project is a collaboration between the Center for Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute. The Project assumes that American democracy can flourish only when citizens are united, at a deep level that transcends ideology, race, and class, to a shared spiritual and moral vision of what America should be.

We believe that democracy as a way of life can be strengthened and deepened through spiritual practices--both those traditionally considered to be "inner work" and those that encourage active engagement with our neighbors and communities. Some practices will enhance or support the essential civic virtues and qualities of American democracy, such as civility, diversity, equality, fairness, freedom, generosity, hospitality, kindness, optimism, resilience, service, trust, and more. Other practices will help us deal with problems and obstacles that depress democracy, such as anger, apathy, authoritarianism, fear of strangers, rigid thinking, violence, and others.

The Project offers spiritual practices and resources for various constituencies, including congregations, schools, businesses, advocacy groups, government agencies, and workplaces. On the Project’s website, you’ll find quotes on the language of democracy, recommended books and book excerpts, ways to honor democracy mentors and teachers, practices to observe flashpoints in American history, art reflections, music playlists, prayers, video clips, citizenship rituals, and curated content organized by topics such as anger, civility, community,  conversations, empathy, enemies, empathy, resilience, and much more.