Saturday, July 21, 2018


By teaching the equality of all men before God, Christianity laid a groundwork belief in equality of all before the law.  Generations of kids have learned that human beings are equal before God. God gave us the gift of equality in creating us. This is an important basis for democracy today.

And democracy isn’t just a hot Christian value. Other sources support democracy too.. 

Long before Jesus, demokratia (democracy) was a practice in some Greek city-states. Today, the ancient Greek practice of demokratia is a model that has tremendous power everywhere. 

Pericles' Oration before the Assembly in Athens 
Oraison funebre Perikles
Artist: Philipp Foltz d.. 1877
via Wikimedia

Democracy is also at home in Africa. Here’s example of traditional African democracy. In Sierra Leone, the term for democratic discussion in the village council is “palaver.” The idea is that every person is free to participate in resolving a dispute that’s dividing the village.

How does it work? Here's an example. Two factions within the village are in dispute over who has the right to farm a certain area next year. The decision has to be made now so that bush-cutting and other preparations can begin.

So, the village chief (he/she) decides to consult the entire village.

The chief calls villagers to gather in the town “barri”, which I'd describe as an open-sided thatch-roofed meeting hall. Who has the right to farm the bush? The whole village thrashes this out. It takes as long as necessary for everyone to have a say. A consensus is reached. The village is reunited. Has something like this happened in your village? In your town council? In your legislature? 

Democracy is the consensus of the people versus rule by authoritarian individuals. Personally I’ve seen forms of democracy at work in the U.S.A., Egypt, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Liberia.

"Dangerous, More Brutal Time"

Last week President Obama gave a speech in Johannesburg honoring Nelson Mandela, author of full democracy for all in South Africa. Obama said, “. . .we see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal way of doing business.” The Guardian, July 17, 2018. Obama was pointing to the return to “strong man” rule, even in some major democracies.

Obama’s concern should be our concern. Absolutely. In “2018, The Year of the People,” I urge people everywhere to dance for, push for “democracy, diversity, tolerance.” Let us uphold and expand democracy.

You may be fortunate enough to live in a democracy. If so, vote! And when you do, make sure you’re supporting a candidate who’s pledged to democracy, diversity and tolerance.

If you’re not a citizen in a democracy, learn about this unique and workable tradition of creating and growing a society. Work, however you can, toward its adoption where you live.

Everyone, everywhere: Join the dance to the rhythms of diversity, freedom, justicet and tolerance. This means protect it if you’ve got it, advocate it if you don't enjoy it yet. Vote, blog and post on-line, demonstrate, support pro-democracy candidates, run for office yourself. Find your thing in this dance and just do it. Sponsor the dance.

Theme #5 in this Year of the People; Join the Dance for Democracy.

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At July 21, 2018 at 2:10 PM , Anonymous James Brewer said...

One of my heroes in life and faith is Desmond Tutu. Saw him speak at the first UM Global Gathering in about 1985 in Louisville. Purposely walked through a picket line of anti-ANC people demonstrating against the efforts to end Apartheid. Of course, Tutu later served as Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that was a tremendous help in making a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa.


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