Why Deep Democracy

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Deep Democracy

Where every voice is welcome

and every voice needs to be heard.

It is like saying what counts,

what matters and who belongs.

We cannot do

Outer Deep Democracy

without practicing

Inner Deep Democracy.

Beyond Majority Rule

In democracy, the majority is taken as the only and legitimate viewpoint. Too often, our rational head space is the home of debate. Minority viewpoints, feelings and ideas are ignored – this is often a recipe for conflict.

In contrast, Deep Democracy has a ‘Guest House’ approach: it welcomes and invites all voices and styles - even the voices we find most disturbing.

Deep Democracy helps us to connect with all the parts and voices within ourselves and amongst us. It provides us with a means of tracking the feelings within us which we so often marginalise within and project onto Others.

We are currently experiencing the increasing complexity of our world. An adversarial system of polarity no longer serves us. We create the thing that we are opposed to. We cannot deal with complexity by simplification of issues into ‘this’ or ‘that’, ‘either’, ‘or’. The adversarial systems with all the checks and balances we instituted limit us to just swinging back and forth between the most vocal extremes. The sighs and silence of many in the face of this complexity is often attributed to apathy. But this is wrong. The individual who is not able to say much, feels much, thinks more, but goes silent before the power of our formidable institutions.

Deep Democracy Forums facilitate conversations: we bring people together, facilitate and discuss complex issues so that we can better know ourselves as individuals and so that our institutions can also better know themselves - their power and their vulnerability. They help so that we can all know ourselves better as individuals, parts of groups, faith communities, localities.

Deep Democracy Forums facilitate community conversations on hot topics in order to:

- Build and strengthen personal relationships between people - not just amongst ‘people like us’ but all sorts of people, including people we would not normally come into contact with

- Reduce conflict by supporting all voices

- Bring out communal wisdom

Polarities need time to be acknowledged and listened to. Further time is needed to set polarities in their multiple contexts so all of us communicators can listen to each others' history, viewpoint and feelings. If this happens, then we can move from a model of democracy which depends only on losers and winners to a model of democracy which allows for free listening as well as free speech, for clarity in complexity, for cooperation and kindness and for a deeper understanding of our own diverse humanity and each other. A deeper democratic model... deep democracy. In these forums, we seek to find ourselves as a group that can value all voices and all our diversity.

The very idea of having facilitated conversations where each voice is valued is a social and political act. We have learnt that when we create a space where we share our stories, go slow, listen to the ‘unspoken’ and bring all voices into relationship, deeper connections and unity - in the moment - become possible. Unity can, thus, become not only a hope, but a reality we have shared in the moment. We can, then, take the imprint that this shared in-the-moment unity leaves with us and use it to move forward together.

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