A democracy is not a a fixed or static structure of laws and regulations. Much more, it is a structure of relationships. It is a way of life.
The way of life it is pointing to is the way of life of an artist. Art is the creative expression of oneself. Oneself is mutually defined by the rest of the world.
Democracy therefore assumes that participation is necessary. In governing economic life as well as in political life. But democracy is not about learning to give up one’s interests for the sake of others. It is about learning to see one’s self – interests embedded in others ’ interests .
From concerns about environmental health and neighbourhood safety to effective schools and job security — none can be achieved by oneself. Each depends upon the needs of others being met as well as one’s own needs being met.
Democracy then is an ever – evolving relationship through which people solve common problems and meet deep human needs.
Yet, taking a position on anything to express those needs, even speaking out in the classroom or workplace, is a scary proposition for most of us. Therefore, democracy is a learned art. We are not born as citizens. Citizenship is an art. The tools to make art – and the tools we need to learn – are active listening, critical thinking, dialogue, embracing ambiguity, storytelling.