Democracy is more than a form of government. It is more than an individual attitude, a group process, or a way to educate people. It is all that, as well as the thread that ties together individuals, groups, and society through our thoughts, words, and actions. Democracy is a way of life. Undergirded by the values, beliefs and attitudes of everyone within a definable community, democracy is made visible in the personal interactions, the organizing structures, and the shared cultures among people.
Even though it’s often misunderstood as just the operational process for government, democracy is much more. It is apparent in the ways individuals visualize themselves and society; it is observable in the interactions between people at home, within communities, across nations, and around the world; and it is obvious throughout the values, operations, and outcomes of places shared among people.
In the lives of some young people, democracy is a living, breathing function that can constantly guide their lives, inform their thinking, and drive their actions. While that isn’t the reality for most young people today, it is the possibility of that reality that drives so many children and youth today to take action to change the world. The democratic potentials in the lives of the young include family life, where democracy can take root, grow and expand dramatically; education, where learning, teaching and leadership expand the present capacity of our democracy everyday; and community, where the voices of children and the voices of youth can be fully expressed in governance, social capital, volunteerism, and more.
Democracy can be practically expressed within family life, whether in the parent-child dynamic, sibling relationships, or the valuation and devaluation of birth families and chosen families. Expressed through culture and attitudes, democracy at home or the lack thereof is evident in the ways parents communicate with their children; the everyday treatment of be
Unfortunately, these same places are where democracy deficit disorder is most prevalent throughout our society.