#30 Democracy Needs a Swift Kick in the Pants

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When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us––our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy.

1. Things here at CxD sometimes turn political because Character isn't merely an individual sport . Our personal bushes need some sprucing and trimming and weeding, true, but a turn toward a more civic-minded forest-for-the-trees view of our lives asks us to consider how our individual character helps directly shape the character of our families, our towns, our states, our nation, and eventually, our world. 

And so in a Democracy we have to give a shit about the character of our representatives because they represent our own character values.  

"Democracy is not merely a set of procedures. It has a moral structure. The values we celebrate or stigmatize eventually influence the character of our people and polity. Democracy does not insist on perfect virtue from its leaders. But there is a set of values that lends authority to power: empathy, honesty, integrity, and self-restraint. And the legitimation of cruelty, prejudice, falsehood, and corruption is the kind of thing, one would think, that religious people were born to oppose, not bless."  Source



“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”  ~MLK
 

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2. Power is the capacity to have influence. See Black Panther if you haven't yet to examine that claim and its repercussions and if you do so in the context of the Martin Luther King quote above, the film will open up rich rewards.

"That the main conflict of Black Panther is a rumination on power and the responsibility that a black utopia has to marginalized people—particularly those of African descent—around the world shouldn’t be lost on viewers. This is a big-budget Marvel movie with a thought-provoking premise that has no easy answers. As T’Challa explains, revealing the country’s long-held secret would expose Wakanda to villains like Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who would use vibranium for their own insidious, power-hungry needs. But how noble is turning a blind eye to people in need? What does Wakanda owe to the rest of the world? This dichotomy doesn’t just separate T’Challa and Killmonger, but T’Challa and his ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), who’s chosen life as a spy helping people across the world." Source

So if the power you have or the power you vote into office is founded on cruelty, falsehood, and corruption, the entire nation suffers. There is no way out from being responsible. Which takes us back to character: what values matter most to you? Which leaders represent you and those character traits? And if the answer is "none," perhaps it's time to become a leader your own damn self. 

The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously,  relentlessly, without giving up––ever––trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy? ~ Terry Tempest Williams "Engagement" 

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3. Beer and Book Club is Back! And despite many votes in favor of Moby Dick, Book #3, seen above in its fiery splendor, is a guide to meeting our power and responsibility with heart, which is balls-ass hard, since our hearts are so vulnerable, and soft, and squishy. The author, Parker Palmer, is one of our true Spiritual Elders who has done tremendous work about what it means to live from a vibrant, unafraid, but nonetheless tender heart. This guide will help us remember how a Democracy can be. It's important. Join us. Much depends onyou whether you realize it yet or not.