Democracy's Creed
Brett Anderson
djbraski@yahoo.com
 
 
Pathways for Successful Democratic Interactions
 
•    Treating each other as free, equal and capable is a diachronic trust that treating, people as free, equal and capable will make it so.  It is a goal that regulates our present behavior.  It will sometimes fail and we will face challenges that test and strain this rule.  We may, in some instances be forced to abandon it, but it is the default stance and general rule we ought to apply.
 
•    Respect cashed out as careful listening, offering responses within the other’s reach, and trying on other’s beliefs, no matter how strange or hateful.
 
•    Using language and interpretation of others’ language that searches out pathways for agreement and a furtherance of trust useful for future discussion.
 
•    Discussion and interaction that seeks polite rational argument not based on insults or deception.
 
•    All persons are capable of learning and change, treating them as such will elicit learning and change in others and ourselves.
 
Rules and Democracy
 
Democracy is a practice.  At every turn, at every interaction with another person of any age or position, you attempt to implement the democratic actions of listening, offering, and creative problem solving.  This does not imply a free-for-all. Rules and expectations such as fairness, respect and encouraging feedback are values needed to fulfill the democratic procedure and democratic outcomes.  The procedures and outcomes are intertwined, democratic procedures promote democratic outcomes, and vice versa.  We must promote both at once and always.  The democratic procedures and outcomes are not conundrums to be reconciled, but valued productive instruments.
 
Why Democracy?
 
Democracy, both as a political system and as a private mode of life, is the best tool to give us the good life.  It is close to a necessity.  Democracy is the practice that I can follow, and if others follow to, will most likely give us the good lives we want, while giving everyone else the best chance at the good life as well.  This is not an a priori deductive argument such as a problem of math or logic.  Such arguments fail.  It is an inductive argument; based on the full knowledge of the world, the bountiful possibilities of human nature, present human actualities and causal pathways between these three.
 
If you want the good life, then you must be willing to aim for the conditions that allow the good life for all, if you expect to justify yourself to everyone.  Only if you are not forced to justify yourself in a exchange of reasons, or cut off from knowledge of the situations of such others, can you hobble along attempting to achieve your circumscribed goals while imposing, or supporting practices, that deny the good life to others.  And moreover, that good life will be in a measure impoverished, because it is not aware of what it is doing to others, and it loses out on the expanding interactions and growth that democratic practice brings.  Hence democracy means justifying yourself to the rest of society, whether literally or producing that conversation in the individual.
 
Democracy and Education
 
Education and human development and hence Democracy is, at its core, an invitation as equals to further exploration, with the teacher, parent, scientist, and citizen showing the varying strengths of successful paths and exploring new ones, rather than giving instructions to follow without further interaction or questioning.
 
And these provisional paths of varying certainties, whether yelling at the child not to run into the street, advising a teenager not to try meth, suggesting a book to a college student or encouraging a grandmother to participate in a town meeting, must be used because they are the pathways that create capable and learning adults who will in turn become healthy and wise parents and teachers.  People, whether stunted or wise, are formed by interactions, mainly with other people, and since we cannot develop healthy humans, let alone any humans, without such interactions, we should be planful about which ones to use and we should not be afraid to judiciously experiment with such pathways that will create better teachers parents, scientists and citizens.