Deep Democracy

 
"Freedom of expression in our Democracy is one thing. Freedom of feeling is quite another and not well developed." - Arny Mindell
 
During a recent trip to Athens, I made my way to one of the many bustling little coffee shops at the base of the Acropolis. As I sipped my coffee, I couldn`t help but overhear a conversation that reminded me of the root words of Democracy [demos = people, kratia = power]. The conversation was about getting the necessary permits to build a house. In Canada we would say "you need to go to City Hall for that". The Greeks say, " you need to go to the Demos for that (the people). Demos has such a special ring to it.
 
Nonetheless, hearing the word Demos made me think of the importance of people coming together to discuss and debate important issues that affect us all. We can`t just leave these conversations up to government and policy makers alone. Nor can we rely too much on opinion pieces, social media and questionable news sources to inform ourselves. At the end of the day, the wheels of democracy turn or don`t turn on the quality of our day to day interactions.
 
One of the limitations of democracy is the way it arrives at consensus - majority rule. Most get what they want and the rest are left unsatisfied and don`t go along. This is mainly because the method of achieving consensus favors order and efficiency (Robert`s Rules of Order) at the expense of feelings. But, as we all know, whatever is out of order is precisely what comes back to upset everyone in group life. We need another method of dealing with conflict, one that values facts and reason, but also peoples` deeper feelings and subjective experiences. This is Deep Democracy, an idea developed by Arnold Mindell.
 
Deep Democracy is a conflict facilitation method and an awareness practice that involves people coming together to bear the tensions that actually exist as a way to grow individually and collectively. People working on the world`s issues. In fact, Mindell refers to this as Worldwork and is based on the following principles of Deep Democracy:
 
     1. Identity determines perception.
     2. Rank and power complicate conflict.
     3. Facilitate what is there (facts of a conflict) and "not there" (deeper feelings hidden in subtle signals)
 
Deep Democracy values all voices and experiences (especially the unpopular ones) as potentially useful for building community. Deep Democracy also apples at the individual level. Being deeply democratic with ourselves is a feeling attitude. How we deal with our inner conflicts is a function of our ability to facilitate outer conflicts.
 
Below are some helpful links to learn more about Deep Democracy and Worldwork.
 
www.aamindell.net
www.worldwork.org
www.deepdemocracyinstitute.org
 
 

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