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The Ecology of Democracy, Chapter 6 - Your point of view - 2

Hello Everyone,

Our classroom discussions have centered on a chapter you were assigned from The Ecology of Democracy.

This is a gentle reminder that your posts and responses are due by Friday, Aprilr 7th by midnight. Keep in mind, you are to make two well thought-out, meaningful posts and respond to two of your classmates, for a minimum total of four posts.

Remember, we are interested in your original thoughts and ideas! This assignment is designed to get you to think critically and engage in a civil discussion with your classmates about democracy as it relates to you in the classroom and in the community.

Please do not wait until the last minute; post early and often. Each post will be graded based on the quality of the content. Your post should cover some aspect of the chapter you are reading. Please use this link to enter the website

You will make your posts in the classroom conversations area; under the thread The Ecology of Democracy Your point of View-2. You can also receive up to 20 points extra credit by answering the thread question: How do you understand the role of citizens or the citizenry in a democracy?  If you have not registered, you will need to do so. Feel free to catch me in class or shoot me an email if you have any questions.



WWaters's picture

While it is great to say that compromise is key and knowing if your action is right is what is important is a great way to think, it is also more rare than it should be. People are more concerned about hoe their decision affects them compared to others and are looking specifically for ways that they are right to be able to pat themselves on the back. Usually, people will have an opinion or make a decision based on their own beliefs and what little information they know based on one or two sources. They then look no further than those. It is important to understand what the main issue is in the first place because the impact of what you are getting involved with affects everyone, and not just youself or that one person you are doing it for.

Wmukhtar's picture

While many of us may wish for the same things in society, not all of us are willing to go outside and actually meet our neighbors to discuss. It is even stated in the article that our ancestors probably started working in groups to avoid danger, and within these groups they would sacrifice for the greater good. The chapter also discusses values in terms of things that people hold dear. One of these things is pride. This is true, it is the difference between renting a piece of land as opposed to owning it. While renting it may make logical sense, the difference in owning it comes in terms of the pride that comes with owning anything. One of the more interesting points I found in the chapter was the idea of naming issues and who gets to do this. The name of an issue can have a huge effect on how it is perceived. This brings about an even greater issue, the influence of media and politicians on how we view everything in our society. Most people do not actually conduct their own research into societal issues to get clear answers. We often base our judgement on media, politicians, or emotional events that may not necessarily be the truth. This is harmful because it causes for uninformed voters making important decisions in society. 

WJohnson's picture

I think that it is very interesting to look at what essentially motivates us as a collective group. From our roots as hunters and gatherers, we all hold certain needs in common. While I agree that these needs are all a sort of common ground within the human race, I don't think that it is absolutely due to either genetics or the environment individually, but rather a complicated mixture of both. Continuing on, I think the main reason why there are so many citizens on the political side lines is mostly due to the individual's personal experience. If they have been in a position of influence, I feel that they'd be more predisposed to try to effect change, and vice versa. The fact that getting involved, which at sometimes can be quite a process, is only half the battle is also a very daunting prospect. This may also be a major contributor to the lack of participation in politics. With half the battle tied up in participation, the other half is about being well informed. This is just as vital as the first half because even if you participate a lot in politics, if you are not well informed, it really doesn't do any good because you don't really know what you're supporting. The U.S. has seen this a lot this past year and that's why what this chapter is explaining is so important; it is relevant and it affects all of us to the present day.

wleshan's picture

I think that this article is great and really highlighted on how important it is to understand what motivates people in order for our institutions to be most efficient. If we cannot figure out how to motivate people to go out and vote or make them feel motivated to get an education these great institutions that we have propped up in order to better our society and create better citizens will be useless. I think a major problem is that people still try to use fear to motivate people to do thjngs. Instead of trying to scare people into voting or getting an education we need to demonstrate what these systems can offer for them and why it is worth it to take time and participate in order to better society as a whole.

Wblankertz's picture

After reading Chapter 6, I really understood the connection between what you value and take pride in and how that determines your level of involvement. The first thing I thought of in regards to this is the right to vote. There are many people in the country who do not vote at all, which I think is more specific to the younger generations who don't see an importance in voting, or in other words don't see any value in it. One question I asked while reading was, how can we see to it that people of all different types relate to a common cause? Is that even possible? I think one of the biggest obstacles in getting involved is the new technology age, that is evolving as we speak. Cell phones, computers, and TVs seem to be "disconnecting" us from other people. It is more common to see people on their phones, than to see them in spoken conversation with other people it seems. I think this is one of the biggest things keeping us from getting involved, even if it is our natural instinct to get involved. I found that the most interesting to read about, the connection between our survival instincts to get involved as hunters and gatherers in order to survive. But since we don't have to "hunt and gather" anymore necessarily, does that dull the natural instinct to get involved? One important thing to getting involved more is to get more educated on what is going on in the world around us! 

Whallock's picture

I think that the involvement of people making decisions and taking action to help benifit society is important.  While many people may agree with this statement, many of us don't take action unless it is something that really affects us.  Taking action is only half the battle because if you are not completely informed about the issue then you are not able to make the smartest decision possible.  You also may be someone that really understands the problem, yet people disagree because they have trouble trusting you.  I think that when it comes to understanding society's problems we need to educate people to the point that they are able to make good judgements.  If we are able to have a well-educated society many problems will be solved but only if you take that knowledge and apply it to the problem.  

WZiccardi's picture

The citizens play a huge role in a democracy, or at least they should be. Every citizen has the opportunity to express his or her opinion about various ideas and has control over who gets to represent them. However, many citizens do not utilize this opportunity and do not vote for anything that they could, like the electings of government officials, the passing of some laws, and many other things that the citizens of a democracy have the opportunity to vote on. This lack of involvement is not caused by one specific thing, but getting more people to come out to vote more often would benefit the country as more of the population would be represented and therefore the results would better reflect how the entire country feels about what was voted upon. 

Welnour's picture

I've never been someone passionate about politics, because I never felt my involvement would make a difference.  But with the recent election of our president, the decisions of our government have such a direct effect on me that it would be ridiculous not to be involved.  As the chapter stated, my single vote or opinion may not make a difference in the vast political system, but interacting with my locals and becoming a real community will lead to the public opinion changing, and the political system is known to follow what the public finds valuable.  If my neighbor stays in his own political bubble and I stay in mine, we may never share with eachother the knowledge we need to make educated decisions and votes in our future, and we may never be able to agree on a leader that can change this country for the better.  Thats why it is important to start by raising up the community first, and in turn creating an educated public opinion which can impact the political system.

Whui's picture

When I read this article, even though I knew that the information and background was based on United States and US citizesn, however, it bought me to think about where I am from. Not getting involoved in political decision, or not taking it seriously not only happened in United States, but all over the world. During the presidential election few months ago, I knew there were lots of friend of mine gave up the right to vote either in the way of not showing up, or drew something on their ticket. Some might say they did this to show their dissatisfaction of the two predisdent candidates, but they way I saw them was they don't care. Bringing up a similar example. In 2014, the umbrella revolution in Hong Kong was trying to fight for the right to vote for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong based on citizen's will. However, some people, mostly those who were in their late 30s to 50s disagree with the revolution, and ther reason was "I don't care who will be the Chief Executive, and I don't want to be involved in all these politics activities, I would rather make some more money." In these people's eyes, the "value" that they treasured the most was their income or their business. Combing the example with the idea from the article, sometimes, even though they treasured some type of "value", but there is always something more "valuable" that stopped them from getting involved.

Wrollins's picture

When reading chapter 6, I came across certain elements that are present in our current system more than ever. Our population's lack of motivation and participation in civic activities and the use of misinformation unknowingly or intentionally has damaged our democracy.  The author stated, "being informed politically involves having facts, but facts alone aren’t sufficient. People have to exercise sound judgment on issues..." (Chapter 6, Page 71). I share this opinion entirely but find it unattainable in this current climate. At this time "fake news" and misinformation are at an all time high, and It appears that a verifiable portion of the population operates through a confirmation bias. And in knowing this, I find it troubling when the author reports "Critics worry that the public’s participation won’t be well informed. And much of the institutional and professional hesitation to involve the public comes from worries that citizens won’t make thoughtful decisions" (Chapter 6, Page 71). I believe the reason for the decrease in participation in our democracy can be attributed to a lack of understanding of policies. It should be important to educate the population with valid information that is crucial to them, so interest pursues. Regarding these two obstacles, I believe democracy is in the balance, and something should be done to preserve factual information and pique political awareness.  

Wyang's picture

I heard this words from one of my professor in class "One can never make the perfect judgement, they can only make judgement based on the information they have, and one can never have know all." And this came to me about "involving in the poltiics". We all been through the 2016 elections, and from most of the commons on-line we found out that half of the nation think the other half is wrong(Of course this is just a figure of speech, the vote rate is not 100%). The problem is, who is "right"? As the 90% of the population, do we have enough information to make the right decision? And if 70% of the people vote for one plan, is that means that the chosen plan is the "right" one? Democracy may not be the system that can offer the best solution, but at this moment, it is the system that can offer a solution that people in the system that won't regrat. 

On the other hand, Democracy has it's unique advantage. As I mentioned before, information is the key to judgement making, by collecting the opinion from the majority, the system will be able to offer the best solution.

Wsiddig's picture

After reading chapter 6, i agree that citzen involement with their local government and politics in genral is necessary. Because without that, we wouldn't be able to make educated decisons. We would just base our arguments and decisions on social media events, what our friends say to us and emotional events. Whether it is a terroisits attack, or someone being treated with injustice. For example, in this last election, many people who voted for trump did not vote for trump because they necessarily agreed with his political views, but because of emotional events that occured in the past from 9/11 to the boston marathon tragedy. Trump continued to bash on Arab's and muslims and promoted hatred to the american people. And i think the people who voted for him were misguided and voted because trump told them what they wanted to hear, "a safer and richer America" or getting rid of terrorists by, banning muslim countries to enter the US. Therefore, we should be more involved with political issues and local goverment so we do not impact society in a negative way due.

Wyadav's picture

At the very beginning, the book acknowledges the fact that citizens are usually on the sidelines of the political structure and that by just being involved will not improve their lives for everyone unless the citizens make wise decisions regarding what ought to be done. I can relate to these two issues in the sense that I have witnessed a situation where citizens agree to a particular agenda without being well informed on what it will bring to the table. Once they have accepted it, they start to complain that they were tricked whereas its them who did not carry out due diligence before accepting it. This book has been able to enlighten me on areas where the opportunities mentioned in the text can be found. I have also been able to appreciate the important work that citizens do. I can see that work of democracy can be undertaken in ways that give citizens more control and help reinstate the legitimacy of the institutions. I agree with the book in that what is deeply valuable politically or collectively is not similar to the interests that arise out of our particular situations as well as different from abstract values. Most people desire to be free from any dangers and to be treated fairly, hence the importance of democracy. 

WChapman's picture

In general, I believe that showing the next generation the importance of current policy decisions to their future will be key. People of my generation only show an interest in a certain topic if it directly affects them now. We tend to care less about what will happen a few years down the road. Also, finding a way to become an informed, productive citizen will be much easier if my generation approaches it differently. We have the potential to become an extremely involved generation, but we must stop believing that politics are so trivial.

One of the best ways for young people to gain collective decision making skills is through education. Classroom presentations, essays, and teamwork will be the fastest way to hone in such skills. Furthermore, I believe that young people must take some initiative to get involved, which stems back to the first discussion question. How can we possibly work on decision making skills when no one cares enough to try? Therefore, I think that solving the involvement issue will inevitably play a major role in the progress of decision making skills. Lastly, I think a good practice by young people would be to approach all situations logically and with facts.  Many times, we tend to get wrapped up with the "feeling" side of an issue and this only hurts our arguments.

WTan's picture

After reading chapter 6, I totally agree with people should get involved. Most people underrate their value in the society, they think they are not valuable enough to represent something. But the truth is everyone who lives in this world are very important, each of us is just like a component in a machine, the machine would be fail to running by losing any single piece of component. It's our reponsibility to getting involve into events like election etc. One single opinion might not be strong enough to change something, but if you public your opinion and let people see what you think, it really helps the development of the society.