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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 Monday, November 27th by midnight. Keep in mind, you are to write a well thought-out, meaningful reflection paper about your group project  and respond to two of your classmates papers, for a minimum total of three 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 the democratic process of problem solving 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 including the problem, process, program and projected outcome. Please use this link to enter the website http://ecologyofdemocracy.org/.

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.

Best

Comments

Whayek's picture

Many people now a days do not see what is occuring around them. They are disconnected and do not plan to be connected with the many problems happening around the world. However, when something starts to affect them, they start complaining about it. Many people just do not educate themselves and whine about what happens. "Americans who appear to be uninterested in politics may simply fail to see much connection between what they consider valuable and the policy issues championed by interest groups, pressed by community leaders, debated by politicians, and discussed in the media." (Chapter 6, Page 70). This sentence clearly explains that Americans have no interest for the well-being of anyone unless it affects them. Also, it shows that they are not concerned with what our politic leaders have to say. When the Americans fail to recognize their community is failing, who will be there to help?  At the same time, I understand why some people decide not to get involved. This is because it does not affect them directly. However, it is affecting them indirectly.

Wblankertz's picture

I agree with you! I think technology and how social media effects us plays a big part in people not being well informed. Politics is a great example of people not getting involved. Many people do not vote, or want anything to do with politics, because they believe it won't ever affect them or that their vote won't matter. 

Wsarraj's picture

I believe that we are currently living in a century that has been taken over by "Media." Many of us do not bother ourselves to go out and meet our close neighbors for the pure sake of "If I dont know them, then why should I greet them." This has proved to harmful nowadays when in an unexpected situation people approach you and you have minimal idea of what has happend or occurred, and are unable to site something nice about your neighbor other than being quiet. We are living in a society that very few of us go out to representative leaders to complain about something we feel is concerning, yet many others feel the same way but do not reach out, assuming that someone else will do it on their behalf. Well this effect is accumulative over time, and when the time hits, everyone is affected directly and indirectly and their no one to blame but themselves for not getting to acquaint themselves with their neighbors and hearing the issues they might have. That is why I encourage everyone to go out there and meet their nice and peaceful neighbors and get an insight of the their thoughts.

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.

Welaswad's picture

I agree with you that people can't make wise decisions if they are not well informed. However, I think the blame is on the politicians or the group of people who knows everything about the issue because they have the ability to inform the public about the problem and simplify it so that the public can participate and be more involved in making decisions. But, certainly, politicians would never do that because, as the book mentioned, whoever names the problem can direct the public to a certain path that does not conflict with their benefit. 

Whayek's picture

I agree with you on if they are not well informed, they might not have the capabilities to help. However, many people are well informed and just decide not contribute because it takes time out of their day. Also, I agree with Welaswad on the fact that politicians are to be blamed or people who are well educated on these problems. They have a huge platform, our politicans, that need to be used to make a difference and help out the society and the future for coming generations.

WWaters's picture

I agree with you that people who are not informed shouldn't get involved in politics, i also believe that's part of the reason so few people get involved. To many people, they aren't informed and believe that things won't affect them. Or they believe that their representative is there to represent them, so they don't bother. Because of this, they stay to the sides and let others do things for them. I believe that overall it is a mix of being ignorant and uninformed as well as being lazy and thinking that others will express your beliefs and participate for you that leads people to no be involved

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! 

WChapman's picture

I completely agree with what you are saying here. One of the biggest problems we have as a society is that not everyone votes. In order for our democracy to work effectively, we must begin to stress the importance of getting out and voting. Furthermore, I like how you pointed out that technology seems to be disconnecting us from other people. We are constantly shown different viewpoints and news stories via social media until we become numb to it.Therefore, it almost seems as if all of the news is happening in a different world separate from our own. If we are going to have a successful democracy, we must bridge the gap between information and reality.

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.  

WWaters's picture

I agree with you on the reason for the decrease in participation when it comes to politics. Politics expect the puplic to know what theu are voting for, or if they don't, to just go along with them because of the corresponding party or other views. I believe that most of the general public either think they know all about something from a short explination or they dont feel the need to look into it at all because of blind trust in their party's politician. It is now up to the public to check what politicians are saying to know its right rather than knowing its the truth.

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.

Welaswad's picture

I agree with you that there are so many emotional events that impact how people make decisions like voting in the election when they are not well informed about the case. However, I think there is another factor that also contributes to this problem. Generally, people who take a step to participate are negatively affected by this problem. In other words, this issue has to have a significant impact on their essentials of living. As a result, the american society is now divided into two groups: people who do not care, because they are affected by Trump being a president, and another group which trump being a president may even threaten their lives. 

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.

Whayek's picture

I totally agree with your statement about citizens being involved with their community. Many people believe that they have nothing to offer, also they might have other excuses as to why they cannot contribute. However, everyone contributes daily with what they do as a living. It is our responsibility to help our community and society to prosper. 

Welaswad's picture

I think people do not get involved in making decisions that are needed to solve certain issues unless these issues have a big influence on the essentials of life (i.e. food, shelter, etc.). And the book mentioned that there is an "achievement gap" that arise in the society due to hiding the facts from the public, naming the issues themselves by the politicians, and due to economic gaps as well. Also, I believe that it is very hard to get all people to make wise decisions due to the fact that they are not well informed (or educated) about all the sides of the big issue they are trying to solve. The bottom line is people will not be interested in making big decisions unless it is related to their life essentials; therefore, they typically let the politicians make such big decisions for the whole society. 

WChapman's picture

You raised some very good points here. I agree that most people tend to not get involved in public decision making unless they are almost forced to do so. If only there was some way to show individuals that their input towards public policy is a necessity with the respect to the functionality of society. Also, I like that you discussed how we need to get more people informed about public policy. More often than not, the general public tends to be unsure of what is going on in their community, and therefore, they cannot be as involved as possible.

Whayek's picture

Involvement is a major factor in contributing within society. Without involving with your community, how will you begin to understand what happens within your community. However, many people find it hard to get involved. They think it will be too much work, that they have nothing to offer, they might have problems with someone helping with a certain project, and they are not sure if they wanna join. These factors make people not get involved which tears a community apart. The Ecology of Democracy talks about involvement a bit through chapter 6. They said, "All of us are motivated by deeply held concerns about the future and what is at stake for us". This sentence really says a lot. It means that people should involve themselves, even if it is for their own selfish desires. The future will be determined by what you decide to do within your community and your involvement/contribution to society.

WJohnson's picture

I agree with your post completely! It's interesting because a lot of these excuses of why an individual shouldn't get involved stems from the fact that he/she might feel as though their voice is lost when it comes to politics. That's what's really interesting- in order to make a difference, the whole community has to be involved, not just select people within it. The responsiblility lies on everyone to try and make the future brighter. :)

WWaters's picture

I think that people get involved for future generations. There are people who know that the future is as important as the present and the past. The future is impacted by our actions today and to make sure that the people important to you now and later in life need your present and past actions to impact their lives. Unfortunately, there are people who get involved for selfish reasons, such as making themselves look better to others. Those people don't care for the future of others and only on how their actions impact themselves.