A collaboration of The Center for Spirituality & Practice
and the Fetzer Institute

June 21, 2019
Content Update

Dear Colleagues,

For many of us, democratic society was a given at birth. So a program like The Society , a 10-part YA drama now streaming on Netflix, serves an invaluable purpose by reminding us of what is needed to build and sustain a functional community, starting more or less from scratch. The show takes us into a world in which only high school students remain; they must figure out how to live together or die. You can learn more about their challenges that put democracy skills to the test in this review .
An accompanying Values & Visions Guide is designed to give you and your group opportunities to discuss the issues the youth in The Society have to deal with, applying their experiences to similar ones in your own lives. It covers themes of Democracy, Leadership, Fear, Chores and Challenges, Dissent, Community, and Choices.

Shows like The Society ask us not to take democracy for granted but rather to see how we can take responsibility to build and strengthen it. We hope that the following book and film resources will also be helpful to you as you grapple with how best to make a worthwhile contribution in your own locale and beyond.

Salaam, Shalom, Shanti, Peace,

The Practicing Democracy Project Team

What could be more important to a flourishing democracy than good character? Citizens' attributes, traits, and abilities -- like patience, generosity, candor, and sense of duty -- are at the root of their civic contributions. In this topic, you will find spiritual practices, blogs, books, book excerpts, films, quotes, exercises for personal explorations, and more to paint a picture of how character forms and the part it plays in building a strong society.
A Guide by Habib Todd Boerger

Democracy begins locally -- not only within the city or county government nearest you but even closer, within your neighborhood. Philosopher and activist Grace Lee Boggs observed that in living systems, change takes place "from many local actions occurring simultaneously." Here are some starting points for that process.

New in Democracy Mentors

Allen Ginsberg , a seminal poet of the Beat Generation, spoke up against conformity, militarism, consumerism, and sexual repression.

Frank Lloyd Wright , the celebrated American architect, believed buildings should be democratic -- available for everyone to enjoy.

Jacques Cousteau , the marine explorer, drew people all over the world into his sense of wonder and the urgent need to protect Earth's waters.

Margaret Bourke-White , the gifted photojournalist, yearned to have her pictures present essential ethical truths.

Reinhold Niebuhr , the theologian and ethicist, applied his scholarship to helping people determine how to make ideals reality.

Films on Practicing Democracy

Directed by John Chester

Riding the surf of idealism and hope, a hard-working couple decides to farm in harmony with nature. A consultant urges them to trust in biodiversity, but will having a mix of predators and prey protect the farm in the long run?

More Films about Practicing Democracy :

Books on Practicing Democracy

By David Brooks

"There is always a tension between self and society, between the individual and the group," writes cultural commentator David Brooks. "Over the past sixty years we have swung too far toward the self." This bestseller lauds lives propelled by other-centeredness, relationalism, service, and moral commitment to a higher purpose.
By Joseph J. Ellis

Ellis encourages contemporary Americans to dialogue with the country's founders on the fundamentals of American democracy. "Our goal," he explains, "is to learn more about our origins in the fond hope that doing so will allow us to frame the salient questions of our time with greater wisdom than we are currently able to muster on our own."
We the People Book Club

By Viet Thanh Nguyen

This Pulitzer Prize-winning spy novel doubles as a treatise on American culture and a philosophical reflection on the dynamics of power. More importantly, it offers a Vietnamese refugee's perspective on the Vietnam War. Join us for discussion and insights on this book's exploration of U.S. democracy.
Discover more at PracticingDemocracy.net