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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

Ithayer's picture

Only we have the power over whether our votes will be a "sound judgement or a hasty decision".

Ithayer's picture

Chapter six resonates with me especially now, with the election going on. I agree with the author that people are not involved enough in politics, and also that sometimes being involved isn't enough, and that it is also important to be informed in order to make wise and educated decisions. I feel this directly applies to today's young people and voting. Statistically speaking, younger people are less likely to vote, and I feel as though the main reason for this is because of a lack of education on political issues. Firstly, without a political education I don't think they ever even care to vote, being uninformed = being uninterested. If they don't know what issues exist or what is truly at stake, then they never feel compelled to have their voices heard. Voting is a freedom and a right that has been fought for and we, especially as young people, should exercise that right. Secondly, without a proper political education, how can we know we're making a wise choice? Our votes are not reaching their full potential unless we know what values matter to us, and ultimately how they will be affected by what or who we are voting for. We have to inform ourselves to form educated opinions in order to make educated decisions. We can have opinions about anything we want, but without knowing facts on the matter, our opinions will never have any real worth.

Don't be an uninformed citizen.

Don't be another statistic.

UM Ahmed's picture

With the recent election, this article seems fitting. I believe that no matter what you agree with or believe in, one huge thing is the importance of one's voice. In the article, it is stated that we all basically want the same critcal things. We all want everyone to be safe, we all want to be free, we all want to be treated justly. But it seems as though no one is actually listening to each other. With this election we are all essentially saying the same things in different forms and if we realized this before it was too late, it woul have been easy to be united as one. Instead we are divided and many living in fear. It is very upsetting that many people feel the need to hide who they truly are out of fear of gettinf terrorized, or worse, killed. 

UM Tesluck's picture

Yes! We all want to be safe, happy, and free, but we have only been thinking of ourselves and not coming together to see the bigger picture. It is so sad to see so many people personally hurt and honestly scared over the events of the last day and it truly shows how much we have all thought for our well being individually, not as a whole.

UMjarrah's picture

This past election shows how valuable the american vote really is. It is easy to belive that our vote barely counts as a fraction of the outcome, but one must look at a vote as a sign of empowerment because of the what a vote represents. It is sad how generations such as ours takes such a fundamental element of our democracy as only means to an end. The american youth in particular needs to analyze the rhetoric of the candiates in a way that compares, not diffrentiates them because although our diffrences make us unique, our similarities as a nation makes us truly a unit.

Good Job

Ryan Jarrah

UMjarrah's picture

On January 1960, the newly inaugurated former president, John F. Kennedy, expressed to the people of a hopeful nation to "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". Now, this speech is iconic for several reasons, but the reason why it has been recited as the eloquence of democracy is because it changed the standard of how we, the people, viewed our role in politics as people of the free world. In today's day of age we are faced with two main problems in democracy: People are not taking the initiative  to challenge the political system and citizens aren’t making the BEST decision about the work, or lack of, being done. The difference between our time and the time of JFK isn’t that we value our morals any less, it is that the 1960's brought a time of reform which instigated a rhetoric of empowerment for people to be the change in the political eye. Today, this generation isn’t as open to challenge or question the legislative and civic structure. Most of us get involved with other citizens because we are trying to solve a problem or influence a governing body, but this isn’t but the main reason we should get involved is because we feel an added motivation to think about deeply held concern about the future. We take our "values" as the ends of our purpose in life and when making decisions today humans will call to things most fundamental to their well-being. As humans in society, we value freedom, collective security, and equity as formative influences since our ancestral ages. Much of the things important to our well-being are important to the people we associate with as well. The distinction factor being how we compare or rank these ideals of prosperity to our fellow citizen. It is this along with our right to our pursuit of happiness that inspires us to be politically active. An important aspect that was mentioned in this piece is that Americans who appear uninterested in politics may simply fail to see much connection between what they consider to be valuable. Part of the reason why this is the case is because of the failure for professionals to name issues in a way that allow the general public to resonate it with what they hold dear. The name given to a problem is biased in the sense hat the name of the issue itself have everything to do with who is solving the problem. For example, lets say we classify an issue as an achievement gap or as an economic one, it does give a precise representation of an issue but it does so in a way that makes one (who has no relation to the issue of interest) believe they have no place in assessing this issue because it may not apply to them. This is detrimental especially because it lowers people's motivation to become involved in their unforsaken right as free citizens. 

Ryan Jarrah

MMmrazik's picture

One of the examples stood out the most to me in this chapter. It was the one where a family demonstrated questions of judgement. This type a scenario resembles a lot with my family life and surely with others too. It is hard to come to conclusions to situations like these while making everyone in the family happy. I can see why our judgement and values affect the outcomes. It may be more important to spend time with the kids than having a quiet night at home. This made me realize that we tend to prioritize our problems based on importance. It works the same when working with others too. Some decide that helping out at a soup kitchen is better than going to the movies. It all depends on the type of person you have become and the experiences that you have lived through. Our sense of importance thrives on our experiences. This has made me realize why there are so many different opinions in the world. We all start out the same and only branch out individually from each other throughout our lives. Sure we will always have something in common with others, but our overall experiences will always differ.

MMdenicolo's picture

After reading chaper six I saw myself connecting a lot of it to the election, as that has been on my mind for most of today. Our country should be more involved and educated on the whole concept of democracy because not enough people are engaged in voting or being a part of their community to just to name a few examples. Like the chapter discussed, if we want change we have to come together to implement what we want because we can't just sit on the sidelines and brush it to the side. I've witnessed and heard a lot of people do that with the election that we had yesterday, especially from a lot of younger people around my age. So with being a first time voter it greatly saddens me that we live in a country where we can particpate in democracy yet many just put it on the back burner.

UMmoodie's picture

Everything highlighted in this chapter can all be boiled down to one word, VALUES. As the author noted our values are what influences many of our decisions. If what the ruling class is proposing goes against our core values we will find some way to fight back. As citizens coming together if our values clash we most likely are going to get little done in the way of compromise. Our values are what decide if we get involed in the first place or not. If community and unity are not seen as important to an individual they mostly likely will not play a big part in communty building. On the other hand, if an individual views charity and a duty to others as invaluable their presence in the community will be made known. Politicians and policy makers know this and try to use this to their advantage, playing on people's emotions and sense of morality when they are running for office or passing laws that may seem controversial. Democracy has taken on a new form, identity politics. Where the people in power play on what citizens of the country hold dearest to manipulate what seems like the right choice. Then once power is renewed by the voting public officeholders return to their ways of ignoring public outcry because for them, what they value is completely different from the majority

UM Boyd's picture

After reading "The Ecology of Democracy" by David Mathews, I also found interest in the section where he discussed "Why Get Involved". This made me think about how many people believe that they are active participants as American citizens yet, they are not well informed. The most significant problem I see is when citizens take part in the general elections because they believe electing their president of interest will greatly impact them (which is true) instead of taking part in electing officials for their local and state governments which will also greatly impact them. David mentioned that some people may not get involved because they do not believe that issue will directly impact them in any way or they do not see a relevance to take part in that decision. It is reasonable to argue that being involved in your local and state political decision making will affect you more directly than the decisions made for the federal government. Granted, both of these decisions on local and national levels are both relevant to our lives, however you can not take part in federal political decision making and consider yourself an active participant as a U.S. citizen when you do not take part in the political decisions made at a local and state level. In fact, there are some people who are not aware of any of their local and state officials but take part in the general elections because they would like to see change. Change is a progressive notion that happens in a duration of time. Voting on bills pertaining to your state/local taxes, voting for your House of Representatives and senate representatives to be your voice on a national level when it comes to making decisions on the behalf of all Americans are the things that matter before any general election. I believe that once people began to explore the dynamics of politics on a local and state level is when we will began to see a great impact on the direct our country is going in.  

Alisha Boyd

MMBlondin's picture

In reading chapter 6, one of the points made that really stood out to me in particular was when it said, 'simply being involved won’t result in a better life for all unless citizens make informed and wise decisions about what should be done."  This highlights the idea that people should be well-informed and have adequate knowledge of a situation before they make a decision regarding it.  I feel as though this is a very important idea, especially when it comes to voting in our country.  Voting is a very serious matter, and something that I think people should spend time preparing for before they make a decision.  As a responsible citizen, one should make an effort to learn more about each of the candidates and what they stand for before choosing to vote for them.  

UM Alali's picture

My impression of the ecology of democracy means local involvement of people in their communities. The participatory nature of democracy gives people a chance to do things about “causes they care about” as suggested by David Matthews (Ecology of Democracy, 65). Because he shows how a lack of participation, whether it is from feeling like a government outsider or just being uninvolved, and the potential to act in ways that are not in the public interest, anyone who decides to get involved should have a plan for their advocacy or involvement. This is where it helps to learn about the issue you are interested in helping with, in your community. It is important to analyze one’s own motivations for becoming involved in an issue – at the local, state or national level. 

MMvedder's picture

Pride is something everyone has no matter who you are or what your lifestyle may look like. Pride is a source of identity. One of the most fundamental needs is to have a sense of identity. Pride is something that we should have alot of no matter what. 

UMalaskri's picture

Everybody should pride of himself and his personality. Giving your mind to someone to tell you what to do, what's good for you, that means you don't have a personality or identity who you are. pride of your self and do what's you see it good for you.

Ithayer's picture

Another thing that stuck with me from this selection was the author's view on values. The author defines values as the common things that are critically important to our collective well-being. Security from danger, freedom to advance our well-being, fair treatment, and pride. These values semm to be the basic elements we need to function as a society. I really like this view on values versus the traditional view that are mostly emotionally biased and highly subjective. It is a shame though that today I really don't feel as though we are applying these values. At one point in time, it seemed as though our differences were what brought us together. We used to stand on the sidelines cheering for the next group to prosper. Now it seems as though we have lost that faith in each other. We have regressed to a time where our differences are separating us. Racism, sexism, and discrimination in general still exist today, and in fact I believe that now are getting worse. A prime example of this issue is the Black Lives Matter movement. It is a shame in itself that groups like this even have to be formed for our people to feel protected and united. I thought we made it past issues like this during the Civil Rights Movement. We can never move forward as a society if we continue this way. We will never be able to advance. We must have a collective set of values that is universal. We must treat everyone fairly and eqaul. It is our human right. If society doesn't get it's act togther, I believe we will see something even bigger than the Civil Rights Movement. With social media, internet, and advancements in technology, it will be far easier and faster to get a large group of people together to fight for their rights. It's only a matter of time

Remember that we all live under the same sun.

UMjarrah's picture

 

To follow up on my recent post, we must not settle for just people getting involved. Getting people involved is pointless if society as a whole doesn’t benefit. That being said, getting people involved is only half the battle. After people get involved they must be able to make adequate decisions that satisfy the greater good. According to the piece, much of the institutional and professional hesitation comes with the fear citizens won’t make thoughtful decisions. When this fear reaches an emotional level it blocks thoughtful decision making and this makes interpreting the common good as a skewed interpretation. To be involved politically one must be able to look past facts and exercise sound judgements on issues that are morally concerning. Looking from a political standpoint one is constantly at crossroads in deciding between what is right and what is wrong, or what is right and what is easy. We cant educate this concept because it comes from within our moral make-up. This is why its difficult to use facts in politics because we have to take into consideration of what people hold dear. This chapter elaborates on the idea that our best judgement will override facts and theory’s. It is a tenacious process that involves balancing trade-offs, demands, and competing incentives. Civil order shows that just because people value something, doesn’t mean they value it for the same reason or degree. We must never forget that as citizens we have our right to an opinion, and regardless on the viewpoint of that opinion we must remember that we are entitled to political efficacy. Political efficacy is the idea that our voice matters in the political spotlight. The moment we lose our opinion, or resort other sources to generate a notion instead of making one for ourselves is also the moment where we lose our identity as people with political efficacy.

Ryan Jarrah

UM Ahmed's picture

When I think of supercharged people, the Black Lives Matter movement always come to mind. The amount of motivation and drive this movement is powered by is the reason it has angered so many people. The fact that this is possible, the fact that someone can be afraid of such a strong unit of broken, hurt, and scared people is amazing to me. The amount of things that united people can do in times of desperation are empowering in and of itself. In the article it emphasizes the idea that people seem to be motivated and involved in things that have a personal effect to them. To many people, the election or our president doesn't seem to have a direct effect on them and this is where the problem begins. Many people feel as though their opinion or vote does not matter because they think about it on a large scale. For example, one small seedling doesn't seem to important in comparison to a tree. But without that individual seedling there would never be a tree. This notion of someone's voice or vote not mattering is what effect this election. Further on in the chapter, in the section "What's in a Name?" this idea of people not having an interest in politics is touch on. Aside from people feeling like their vote doesn't matter, many people feel like things are already bad so what difference does it make who we elect for our next president. Another thing I find myself thinking about constantly is why do can't we all use this motivation we have for something and actually put into action. If we all took into account the beliefs and feelings of others, took our God-given motivation in whatever it is we are passionate about and actually put forth some effort in bettering our communities we would be in a much better society. If everyone did their small parts, the overall outcome would be overwhelming. 

UM Boyd's picture

Nicely worded! I really like how you related the Black Lives Matter Movement to the content of what that article was about. It is true that as young people we tend to stay away from politics in general but when it comes to things that negatively impact us, our loved ones, and our community, then people tend to get directly involved. I do believe that there is pros and cons to that however becasue if people never got involved until something drastic happens I believe that in some cases people can act irrational and have senseless actions to see change. In relations to the Black Lives Matter Movement that was founded in 2013, before the movement was established our country was already facing racism and police brutality on minorities, it just was not brought to the public eye through social media like it has been in the last 3-4 years. The Black Lives Matter Movement is neccessary and I beleive its motitaves are for the greater good for African Americans but I do believe enlight of all of the recent incidents with African Americans and law enforcement many people in the Black community have been acting out in fear and anger without actually knowing their history about the opporession of African Americans in this country. I say all of this to say that, if people were always intuned and involved in the histroy, the politics and how it is affecting their community, people would come together on more rational terms and try to figure out meaningful solutions to their problems. 

Alisha Boyd

UMali's picture

I definitely agree. Very well put together!

Nadeen Ali

UM Carter's picture

I agree with your post. I also find any time when people can go through difficulties and rise above to be so amazing and inspiring. Those who speak out against wrongs and unite to create change should be more celebrated. I also agree with your point that small actions can have such a large effect. Small actions add up whether they are negative or positive actions. Our actions really do matter and impact everyone around us. It would be a better world if we all contributed to our society, our communities, even in the smallest of ways, like smiling at a stranger. 

MMdenicolo's picture

Using judgement and making decisions was one part of the article that I took interest in because in democracy this is incredibly important. Doing the homework about election is key to find out who to elect or plans you want to setup for your community. Impulse choices can't be made in elections and good judgement is crucial. These decisions we make can impact us for years to come, it's serious. 

UMshaw's picture

I agree! Especially with this most recent election, many of my friends and coworkers simply didn't vote because they either did not like the candidates or they did not think that their vote mattered. Some 12,000+ people went to the poll and wrote in a name as a joke. Those votes had the power to change the election. Voting is the most important non-violent weapon we have, and we are incredibly lucky to even get the chance to vote. The election of the president affects literally everyone, no matter who you are or what party you consider yourself to be personally. I think that people should vote for who they think will effectivley represent the nation and all of its citizens. Voting is what makes us a democracy, it is very important and very serious. Lives could be at stake.

UM jennings's picture

Yes, I completely agree. It made me so upset to hear that people did not take the voting seriously. We have the power to elect out leaders and we made a joke out of it. One of the great opportunity that America gives us is the right to pick our leaders. We have had so many people die fighting to protect our rights, and the least we can do as citizens are to take our jobs seriously. We are voting for our futures, and when we do not take this seriously then we are putting our futures at risk. It is sad to think that those people who either did not vote or wrote in a name as a joke could have changed the outcome of the election. Their votes did matter. We have the opportunity to have a say in government and we should not take advantage of that right.

UM jennings's picture

Yes, I completely agree. It made me so upset to hear that people did not take the voting seriously. We have the power to elect out leaders and we made a joke out of it. One of the great opportunity that America gives us is the right to pick our leaders. We have had so many people die fighting to protect our rights, and the least we can do as citizens are to take our jobs seriously. We are voting for our futures, and when we do not take this seriously then we are putting our futures at risk. It is sad to think that those people who either did not vote or wrote in a name as a joke could have changed the outcome of the election. Their votes did matter. We have the opportunity to have a say in government and we should not take advantage of that right.

MMBlondin's picture

In chapter 6, under the section titled "What's in a Name?", it discusses the massive amount of influence that TV shows, news sources, and other forms of media can have on one's perspective of a situation.  This is a completely valid point that I feel is a huge issue that exists in society today.  There is no better proof of this then in the election that just took place.  Based on what social media and several news sources presented to the public, one never would have been able to predict the outcome of this election, which is exactly why so many people are currently shocked by it.  We let ourselves be so influenced by what the media says that we completely fail to consider the fact that maybe what they are saying is wrong or innaccurate.  As a result, when something, such as this previous election, occurs people are absolutelty blown away by the outcome.  I think it is important for a person to form their own opinions, and, though one should consider what the media and other people are saying, they should not allow it to influence them to such an extreme degree.  Do your own research and make your own observations.  Don't just trust what the media tells you.

UM Tesluck's picture

Sometimes we feel so limited to the concept of "me" that we forget there are billions of other people out there who are also "me" and share many of the same desires we do. Fundamentally we all want happiness, peace, and security. We all have a common purpose here yet we forget that it is shared amongst everyone - even the people we despise. I think we let these identities we make for ourselves divide us even further into a state of perpetual hostility and disagreement. Once the egos are dropped, it is much easier for us to connect on a basic level and recognize that we prosper living together.

Ithayer's picture

agreed. well put. *thumbs up*

UM Ahmed's picture

Really well said! I agree, our generation is so focused on "me" that it makes it hard to focus on the "us". Everyone essentially is saying the same thing, but if we listened to each other we would realize that. I love how you brought up egos, but those are the things that ruin so many amazing things like friendships, relationships, great opportunities that people cease to realize. 

UM Tesluck's picture

Until I read this chapter I never thought of the media and news outlets as providers of explanations to the problems we all experience today. It's right - bad things happen, people start talking about them, start asking "what's the problem?", - and if enough people are concerned, some form of media/news will provide an explanation. Then, another will provide an opposing explanation for the same problem. A duality will come into play for most morally-driven questions (ex. pro life vs. pro choice). It's also revealed in politics (democrat vs. republican, capitalism vs. communism). Like in my previous post, these constructs fall in the way of the connection we share as a species and hinders our ability to make informed decisions for the greater good of everyone involved.

UM Walker's picture

I agree with you as well, it's so much going on and the differences of this world with it's democracy and republican views and it's running this world up a wall, in my eyes.