“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” -John F. Kennedy
I know. Easier said than done, isn’t it? Here we are a couple of days from another Fourth of July, a day of picnics and family and parades. But what about democracy? I don’t want to get too political, but if you can’t be political on the Fourth, I don’t know when you can.
My sense is that our democracy is in danger. This week at Chautauqua the theme has been Invention and Innovation with speakers focusing mostly on technology. But I wonder how we can reinvent our democracy. I suggest the following:
- Let’s genuinely communicate with each other. It seems that most people are divided between two very different worlds — Venus and Mars — who have no idea how to think carefully about issues, taking in all views, or to give their well considered opinions politely. It’s almost as if we don’t speak the same language. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see people — especially our politicians — listen closely, not haranguing and attacking, but absorbing the pain beneath words. How about speaking civilly, not from a place of superiority but of humility?
- As President Kennedy said, let’s work together to find the right answer instead of the Republican or Democratic answer. Cooperation should be the heart of our democracy, combining our ideas and our strengths to create a better country for all of us.
- Finally, let’s invite everyone to the party. Let’s throw out labels and have everyone, every ethnicity and race, women and men, rich and poor, gay and straight, all faiths, be accepted and celebrated as equal members of our democracy who participate enthusiastically in creating our future.
Does that work for you? Whether it does or not, I hope you have a joyful, thoughtful Fourth of July.