The Strength of Democracy

  • Head's Note
Tobin Bechtel

The strength of democracy comes from the role we play in protecting it. As Norman Cousins observed, “In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility.” Democracy relies on our ability to hold passionately to differing views while engaging in civil dialogue. It thrives when we listen to each other and test our own ideas against those of others. It is dependent on the use of words, not weapons. We, the people, are better than this. We vote, argue, march - but we must never wage war on ourselves. We must all stand together behind our democracy.  

In contrast, the lawlessness and violence used in our Capitol on Wednesday is out of line with the rule of law and the ideals of democracy, self-governance, basic respect, and human decency. We can disagree among ourselves without attacking our national system of governance. As adults we must help our youth grapple with the contrasting messages that are bombarding them. The organization Teaching Tolerance recommends a three-step process for us to follow:

  • Listen: Ask good questions and listen to kids, try to understand their concerns. Get beyond emotions but do not ignore them.
  • Protect: Work to make our kids feel safe and protected by establishing norms and guidelines for conversation, and by requiring facts and legitimate sources of information. 
  • Model: Demonstrate a calm demeanor and reasoned approach to conversation and disagreements. Encourage civil discourse and a sense of calm.

The values we uphold through our Pillars are fundamental to democracy as well. To our students witnessing the foundation of our democracy coming under attack, to our alumni engaged in community work, and to all of us who were gutted by this assault on America, stand strong. Remembering that the enduring values that Sage Ridge develops in our emerging leaders – scholarship, respect, integrity, courage – are stronger than mob mentality and can make a difference in our community and our world.

  • head's note
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