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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

C_Miller's picture

There are definitely some things that I am not a thousand percent sure that I agree with. I feel like the biggest flaw in people's reasoning when it comes to politics is that we think people honestly care about their own self interests. People have a very bad habit of actively routing against them selves over and over again in elections, regardless of how informed or uninformed they are. Sometimes there is an impulse just to do, and people give in toi the impulse, even though they are otherwise rational. Sort of like many people who voted for Brexit but didn't know why or for what reason, they just did. They understood what it meant but they just sort of want to see what happens next. 

C_Miller's picture

Chapter 6 reminds me of a lot of differnet quotes I know, but one that strikes me as the most relevent is, "Your goal should not be to find how you can prove what you believe, but to believe only what you can prove." People all too often only want to research things that already "prove" what the already believe. I think in a way that it reminds me of the problem with technology, I have all human knowledge in my pocket because of the internet, but I also have infinitely times more access to pseudoscience and history. For mamy, myself included, it is hard to distinguish facts and fiction. It's far easier to just see what you want and roll with it. 

To be honest though, while I am glad I read this I didn't really gain anything from it. I don't really feel that "call for civic engagement". I still want to go home and pretend none of this is happening, I am still unconvinced I can have a positive impact in the discussion, and the overall political sphere of the United States. What do I do now? Just do my homework pass my classes like before and save up money to move out of the country or possibly to do something else. I don't know, I just feel nothing for my country, and I feel nothing in terms of any poliical agenda. I just can't afford to anymore.

UMali's picture

I like the quote you used, I think it fits this senario very well. We often, as a majority, believe what is said in politics just because it was said in politics. Like yourself, I do not feel much for my country anymore because it is going in all different directions now. What sounds right to say to the public might not always be the truth and often times we do not have the right credentials to back it up. 

Nadeen Ali

MMAlwahibee's picture

I agree with chapter 6. Based on my knowledge, many Americans are not interested in politics. To me, I have no interest in politics. However, I believe that all of us are willing to do whatever it takes to have peace, which is not easy to find by politics or elections. Both humanitarian approaches and reactions are caused by members of the community with each other, and the right policy is considered to reconcile these various. We all know that politics is a tough subject when you know nothing about it. 

MMjohnson's picture

As someone who is not interested in politics and just wants to live a peaceful life, I agree with what you have written here. Politics is usually an extremely tough subject for those who have no interest in the field. This is also a problem as the ones who honestly don't know anything about politics usually just jumps on a bandwagon. I am one of those people. However, I think while one does not know much about politics, we should still be able to make a reasonable decision.

Mhowden's picture

While reading Chapter 6, I read a small section about this one lady who made a judgement about the area she lived in without finding research to back it up. She lived in an area where there was a lack of houses being rented and she witnessed a fist fight one night so she assumed thats why no one wanted to stay in those houses. Because of this and her lack of research her and her followers pushed the city to make a new rental ordinance. A lot of Americans do this today and it can create some challenges in their community. This was also a huge aspect of the recent election because some people would not consider Trump due to fear and same with Clinton. When people do not do research it creates untrue judgements that cause them to act out of fear or misconception. People really need to do research before creating movements or acting out or else it could end up poorly. In any situation people need to learn about the topic before trying to inform others or pass new laws or do anything that could impact others. 

Mhodgemaresh's picture

I think that Chapter 6 is a very important chapter and something that all people can reflect on today. Many people did not vote during this presidential election. or voted for the lesser of two evils. Automatically assuming the Clinton was the best candidate. I personally didn't start doing research until the last minute. I was basing all of my decisions on social media and unreliable sources. Although I don't completely agree with the president elect's past and His demeanor he doesn't have too bad of ideas. We have to educate ourselves and not immediately jump on the bandwagon. In politics we typically have two sides, republican and democrat, it's too late now because the election is over but take time to evaluate and research each party. Use your values to determine what would be best for you and your community, don't base your vote on a party. 

Mhodgemaresh's picture

I think that Chapter 6 is a very important chapter and something that all people can reflect on today. Many people did not vote during this presidential election. or voted for the lesser of two evils. Automatically assuming the Clinton was the best candidate. I personally didn't start doing research until the last minute. I was basing all of my decisions on social media and unreliable sources. Although I don't completely agree with the president elect's past and His demeanor he doesn't have too bad of ideas. We have to educate ourselves and not immediately jump on the bandwagon. In politics we typically have two sides, republican and democrat, it's too late now because the election is over but take time to evaluate and research each party. Use your values to determine what would be best for you and your community, don't base your vote on a party. 

Mkuhn's picture

Whether everyone believes in evolution or not customs are passed from each generation to the next. The way things are done always changes but when comparing activities to get where we need to be it is quite similar from the past. Their are certain things each human needs and that doesn't change from generation to generation but the process to attain our needs does. The part of the chapter that mentions humans want the same things in  life is very true. We all want what we need but there are also things in life that we don't need but would all like to have such as iPhones or the nicest clothes.

Mkuhn's picture

The part of the chapter that mentions that to be informed politically you must have facts and that's not all. I believe thatyou must be able to use those facts in a way that solves issues while informing others on how they can help as well. We come across obstacles in our lives where decisions must be made among a group of people with different opinions, views, wants, needs, etc. To make sure everyone gets what they want out of a situation by working together and making sacrifices, that is then democracy

MMcrosby's picture

David Matthews makes a great argument in chapter 6 of Ecology of Democracy that the critical issues of democracy are the lack of citizen involvement in politics and making informed and conscious decisions. A democracy cannot function at its fullest capacity if not everyone is participating, and being educated and informed during the process. From my observations, I agree that citizens are not motivated to be involved in politics because they fail to understand how they are connected to issues and cannot relate, therefore lose interest. I can identify this in my very own community, citizens are not active in the local government because they believe that what is be decided on does not pertain to them. However, if more people contributed their opinion, a better decision could be made, benefitting them in the long term. 

MMcrosby's picture

David Matthews makes a great argument in chapter 6 of Ecology of Democracy that the critical issues of democracy are the lack of citizen involvement in politics and making informed and conscious decisions. A democracy cannot function at its fullest capacity if not everyone is participating, and being educated and informed during the process. From my observations, I agree that citizens are not motivated to be involved in politics because they fail to understand how they are connected to issues and cannot relate, therefore lose interest. I can identify this in my very own community, citizens are not active in the local government because they believe that what is be decided on does not pertain to them. However, if more people contributed their opinion, a better decision could be made, benefitting them in the long term. 

MMcrosby's picture

David Matthews makes a great argument in chapter 6 of Ecology of Democracy that the critical issues of democracy are the lack of citizen involvement in politics and making informed and conscious decisions. A democracy cannot function at its fullest capacity if not everyone is participating, and being educated and informed during the process. From my observations, I agree that citizens are not motivated to be involved in politics because they fail to understand how they are connected to issues and cannot relate, therefore lose interest. I can identify this in my very own community, citizens are not active in the local government because they believe that what is be decided on does not pertain to them. However, if more people contributed their opinion, a better decision could be made, benefitting them in the long term. 

MMcrosby's picture

David Matthews makes a great argument in chapter 6 of Ecology of Democracy that the critical issues of democracy are the lack of citizen involvement in politics and making informed and conscious decisions. A democracy cannot function at its fullest capacity if not everyone is participating, and being educated and informed during the process. From my observations, I agree that citizens are not motivated to be involved in politics because they fail to understand how they are connected to issues and cannot relate, therefore lose interest. I can identify this in my very own community, citizens are not active in the local government because they believe that what is be decided on does not pertain to them. However, if more people contributed their opinion, a better decision could be made, benefitting them in the long term. 

MMcrosby's picture

While being involved is important, I also believe being informed and educated on issues is even more so. You wouldn't teach a class you don't have any expertise in, so why would you make a decision in a democracy without knowing the facts behind the issue? David Matthews provides a great point of interest that the facts aren't enough when making a decision. This is true for many aspects of life, not just in democracy. But for those who are active citizens, it is crucial to use good judgement and to weigh all options against each other carefully. We often focus too much on the facts behind an issue, that we forget to ask what is morally and ethically right in the situation. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. We must acknowledge that a democracy isn't perfect, but if we do our best to be consistently active and continue our education, we can have a well functioning society 

MMjohnson's picture

Being involved is very important. However the problem is that being involved is nowhere near enough. You must know what exactly you're getting involved in and you must know a good amount of the finer details. David Matthews does make sense when he states that facts are not the only thing that helps a person make a reasonable decision. I partially agree. One's feeling for the situation at hand should also be taken into account. However, while that is partially true, it is also true that facts should indeed enough to make a decision. If your feelings get in the way of facts then you's end up making problems worse or not making a reasonable change for anything. However, what we should not do is ignore whether what the facts support are morally correct. That's like saying that "Yes this 11 year old boy killed 7 people, we should sentence him to death despite him being young and challenged." In the end there are many aspects that must be considered before making a decision

MMjohnson's picture

I honestly agree with Chapter 6 as a whole. I for one am not someone who prefers to get involved with politics as I know nothing about them. I also find it as something that severs friendship hence my motto of "Friends who want to stay friends do not discuss politics." There are multiple things that Chapter 6 said that I agree with and I feel as though it mostly summarized my thoughts well. When it comes to politics I'm a person who goes for the side that gets the least amount of hate and seems to not sound extremely fake and dihonest. I prefer to honestly live my life like a normal and to make a decision to what seems to be the better decision. However, due to my limited knowledge of politics as a whole, I know that waht I decide may not always be right.

UMFlintJohnF's picture

I thought going into this election that I would stay non-partisan when talking to friends. However, I did end up talking to my friends about politics quite frequently, and we would debate about this sort of stuff, but we did all stay level-headed. Talking about politics with friends is not always the best decision, especially if you're not very close, as this can create tensions that wouldn't otherwise exist. However, I do feel as though very close friends, if they're the sort of people that care immensely about the state of this country, should confide in each other about this sort of thing. If you have close friends, but you never get too seriously into debates with them, and prefer to draw boundaries there, that's perfectly acceptable. I have upon occasion crossed this boundary, however, and found it to be alright, at least with my friends.

dalamri's picture

The decision is always something hard for people. For example, whether to sacrifice one innocent life to save 150 innocent lives. According to utilitarianism, killing one to save one hundred is the correct choice because utilitarianism is about bringing the highest amount of happiness or selecting the lowest bad choice. the term utilitarianism treats people unfairly when there are no good reasons for this different treatment. For instance, Racism is unfair because there are no reasons that let us deal with them unequal treatment. 

dalamri's picture

Politics is always important for people and countries. some people are attracted to the products of nuclear weapons in order to develop their country and to give authority and power to the country so that can lead the world. This require a smart mind in politics. In my opinion, these weapons such as the guns or the tanks might push a country to a positive aspects. I believe that these technologies are one of the most effective way for preserving the country. 

dalamri's picture

Politics is always important for people and countries. some people are attracted to the products of nuclear weapons in order to develop their country and to give authority and power to the country so that can lead the world. This require a smart mind in politics. In my opinion, these weapons such as the guns or the tanks might push a country to a positive aspects. I believe that these technologies are one of the most effective way for preserving the country. 

dalamri's picture

We take the decision to achieve something we want in our lives, or to get out of the problem we face. These decisions made fateful decisions that affect a person's life such as divorce. It is a difficult decision because it infringes on the impact of all family members, and may cause them harm. Also, the choice of specialization is a difficult decision because its effect lasts with you for life. However, there are no affect decisions such as the choice for lunch or go to some friends.

dalamri's picture

It is one of the disciplines of the social sciences taught political theory and its applications, and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior and its impact on society. These studies are often of an academic-oriented character, theoretical and research.

Mhodgemaresh's picture

As I read this chapter all I could think about is the election and all the chaos. Our debates that several people watched on their television was not very informational. Instead the two candidates scream at each other and make accusations. This is very scary because we looked at these two candidates to leas or country and be role models to not only the younger generation, but also the older generation. When we have a leader that does not use reliable and trusted sources this can lead the community into chaos. I think that everyone should read this chapter to have a quick reminder of the importance of research and thoughtfulness of your community and others. 

MM-Bundy's picture

The article discussed the importances of decisions. It gave a scenario where two parents gave up spending quality time with their kids and relatives in order to have some quality time with each other. I would judge this to be justified as often parents don't see a lot of each other with kids and work to deal with. As long as time is spent with the kids and relatives, there is nothing wrong with this decision. For people who aren't married and are possibly in school, the question arises "Should I spend time doing what I want to do? Or should I be dedicated to my studies?" All of life time management and how you manage your time is up to you and not anyone else.

MM-Bundy's picture

The chapter talked about deliberation in our every-day lives. We make deliberate decisions every waking moment of our lives. We choose to respond to our alarm clock and wake up instead of hitting the snooze and going back to sleep. We choose to get out of our beds and go to work or class. We choose to eat out at fast food restaurants instead of making a more healthy meal choice at home. We are constantly making deliberate choices and we are responsible for them. In lieu of the recent election, the United States as a whole made a deliberate decision to elect Donald Trump into the office of presidency. Trump has said he will be very decisive in his plans for "Making America Great Again." Whatever my views on his policies or morals may be, I will give him this, I have no doubt his decisions will be crystal clear and with doubt in his mind. Whatever his decisions are, it will be deliberate on behalf of our great country.

UMFlintJohnF's picture

Interestingly, it could be argued that America as a whole did not make a deliberate decision to elect Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a wider margin than any other losing president in the history of America. Does this mean that the election was un-democratic in nature, since it did not reflect the will of the majority? Perhaps. I leave that to interpretation. I do agree that he will be deliberate and without doubt in his decision-making, though. His goal will be the same as the rest of ours: to try to make this country the best it can be.

UMFlintJohnF's picture

I agree with the notion that most of the time, when we engage with strangers, it will be for mutual or perhaps one-sided (but not overly harmful to the other side) benefits. Trading is an excellent example; both parties have something they are willing to part with for something they believe to be more valuable from the other person. As long as both people are correct in their assumptions about what they are getting, they both "win". I also like the idea brought up that people will rally against a common enemy, like starvation or crime. This idea is often explored in video games, where when partnered with strangers, you will fight together against any aggressors for mutual gain. It's really the same way in real life, just not quite as obvious in its presence. This can also be seen on a global scale when a country wrongs another intentionally and many countries begin imposing sanctions against that one, working as a group to fight against this perceived threat. This is not necessarily for immediate benefit, as perhaps some countries benefitted from trading with this one, but in the long term, these actions may prevent a costly war.

UMFlintJohnF's picture

I am of the belief that the general public acts too hastily and is generally biased towards personal beliefs over the common good. Most any economist can tell you about the prisoner's dilemma as a good example of this. I'll explain. The prisoner's dilemma shows how rational people would work against each other, even if it is in their mutual best interest to work together. The dilemma is set up as follows: Two prisoners have no means of communicating with each other, and they can either choose to tell the authorities the truth or stay silent. If both tell the truth, they both get 2 years in prison. If one tells the truth, but the other stays silent, the one who told the truth is freed and the other gets 3 years in prison. Finally, if they both stay silent, they will get only 1 year in prison apiece. Even though staying silent is the mutually best option, telling the truth is always the best selfish option, no matter what the other person picks. If the other person stayed silent, if you betray them, you get 0 years in prison, as opposed to 1 if you also stayed silent. If they told the truth, you both get 2 years, as opposed to 3 if you stayed silent. As such, both prisoners will likely tell the truth, thus dooming each other to the worse sentence. This working entirely off of selfishness and having no trust in fellow man is exactly why I think people tend to make poor decisions regarding the good of the majority.

Welaswad's picture

I think citizens' involvement in making decisions that affect the fate of the society is extremely important because the society is divided into two groups (the public and the politicians or people with higher authority). And I believe that if only one group makes decisions for the entire society disregarding the other group's participation, the results won't be pleasant. I think this one of the main factors that, generally, lead to revolutions. Also, I noticed that whenever a big issue arises in a society, both groups blame each other. And, obviously, neither group is totally right. In my view, people should be "educated" (as the book mentioned); however, politicians and people with higher authority must provide the people with the correct information, so that they can make the right decisions and be aware that they are not being controlled by the politicians.