Is Democracy Sacred and Worthy of Saving?

There is always a danger of overusing and thereby abusing the word “sacred.”  On the other hand, it is a necessary and precious word.  Is it applicable when speaking of “democracy”?

Protest against corruption and for democracy. Photo by Fred Moon on Unsplash.

In a country where close to 50% of the population seem at home with following an ex-president who has worked overtime to spread lies and disinformation about not losing an election and with 291 politicians currently running for office who do not accept the last election as valid, one wonders what’s up with the future of American democracy. 

Surrounded as we are with authoritarian movements rising around the world, we ask: Will American democracy go the way of Italian democracy that just elected the first fascist leader since Mussolini?  Or Hungarian democracy that has subverted the judiciary and media and opposition parties? 

Is American democracy worth saving?   Of course, it needs profound changing.  It needs a Supreme Court that has not been hand picked by a fascist religious ideologue, a member of Opus Dei, Leo Leonard.  (Who just recently received $1.6 billion in cash to spend as he likes to upend American politics as we know it.) 

And one of SCOTUS’ members’ wives has been actively working to overthrow the last presidential election.

A bold song to face hate and choose democracy. This song can be used to ENERGIZE AND CLARIFY our vision of our community. It can be offered in moments of gathering or closing, online or in the streets. Originally posted to YouTube by The Peace Poets.

And three recent members were handpicked by Leonard Leo and a president who organized the overthrow of the country.

American democracy needs at long last ample representation in the Senate for the millions of citizens not represented in equal proportion to those living in states with tiny populations.  For example, 45 million Californians have the identical senatorial representation as 584,000 citizens of the state of Wyoming.  Is that fair? Is that democracy?

For humans to gather around ideals like “all men are created equal” appears noble—though it took a huge effort to include blacks among “all men” as well as Native Americans, and women, too. 

Indigenous lead demonstration on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C. Photo originally posted to Flickr by Mobilus in Mobili.

Democracy is rife with failures and imperfections.  But what are the alternatives?  As Churchill used to say, “democracy is the worst of all systems…except for all the others.” 

Today the communist party in China is meeting to discuss its next five year plan.  It rules a country of 1.4 billion people with a seven member “board of directors” who hold up a single person who the party elects.  Is that system superior to democracy?  Or Hungary’s?  Or Putin’s?  Or Iran’s theocracy?  Or Modi’s hate-filled persecution of Muslims in India?

IF democracy can right itself, maybe it has a chance.  But we have a lot of work to do, a rolling up of our sleeves is demanded.  Do we have the energy and is a sense of the common good still alive enough to make it work again?

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Prophetic rally: Illinois Handmaids “Stop Brett Kavanaugh” Rally, Downtown Chicago Illinois 8-26-18. Photo by Charles Edward Miller on Wikimedia Commons


Queries for Contemplation

What do you think makes American democracy worth saving?  Is it fitting to apply the word Sacred to democracy?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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13 thoughts on “Is Democracy Sacred and Worthy of Saving?”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask the question if using the word “sacred” is applicable when speaking of “democracy”?
    Of course, it needs profound changing. You use as an example the fact that the Supreme Court has been hand picked by a fascist member of Opus Dei, Leo Leonard. But I take it a step farther in saying, that the Supreme Court should be elected by the people and have set terms, so we don’t get stuck with someone we don’t like for years on end! Another things you point out, that needs to be fixed in our democracy, is representation in the Senate. And this is for the millions of citizens who are not represented in equal proportion to those living in states with tiny populations–for example, 45 million Californians have the identical senatorial representation as 584,000 citizens of the state of Wyoming. Is this fair ??? Ultimately you ask us: “What do you think makes American democracy worth saving?” In the words of Churchill, “democracy is the worst of all systems… except for all the others.” You also ask: “Is it fitting to apply the word ‘Sacred’ to democracy?” Not according to Plato (The Republic) or Hobbs (Leviathan)–they thought that democracy was one of the worst forms of government. But I, like the native peoples here, see this land as sacred, and I wish the government would see it and treat it that way too!

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    After the US of A invaded and conquered Iraq, we sent people there to help them establish a Democracy.
    One of those people was a Sociology Professor from Stanford U. ,who outlined the elements of Democracy.
    Some of which are: The Rule of Law, Selection of leaders by the people, Majority Rule. The US lacks these and other elements. The wealthy and famous get away with crimes. Two political parties determine who is nominated for election. The last two Republican Presidents were not elected by the majority but by a system. If you compare the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany and the US of A ~ all were born and operated by ethnic and dynastic conquest. Humanities problems begin with failures of perception and awareness.

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    You compared CA and WY, but I believe that the starker comparison is that Washington DC, with a population of 5.3M (and a poverty rate of nearly 16%) isn’t a state, doesn’t have full representation in the House (Congresswoman Norton cannot vote on bills), and no representation in the senate.

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    I don’t think there is anything sacred about our current form of government which is deeply flawed. Unless significant structural changes occur, it is doomed to move more toward autocracy. We are controlled by the wealthy who continue to use our current system to enrich themselves.

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    “Of the people, by the people, for the people… “ Yes, the ideal of democracy is sacred and worth preserving! It’s part of the historical and universal spiritual striving for the Loving Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven, and “Thy Will Be Done… “ Humanity has been on this long spiritual journey of our evolving souls through many lifetimes… There has been much oppression and suffering along the way, especially by our ancestral and current sisters and brothers – women, Indigenous peoples, all people of color, and Sacred Mother Nature/Earth… Now we are all going through a very painful period again, but this time we’re facing our own existential survival as a species, along with other sacred species, because of what our modern global industrial society has done to our planet’s natural and living climate and environment the last two centuries, besides continued social injustices, racism, and wars… Maybe humanity does need to suffer a deep physical and spiritual death and transformation, even though very painful, to be renewed/reborn towards a more compassionate humanity in Loving Oneness with All Mother Nature and our Living co-Evolving Cosmos….

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    Forms of government are not sacred, but they do have a sacred obligation toward what is sacred – human dignity and all of creation. While American democracy falls short, democracy has the best chance of fulfilling that obligation because there is the chance for everyone’s voice to count. No other system does that. That is what makes it imperative to protect democracy and keep correcting it. It is shocking to realize how many Americans do not believe in democracy because it does not give them the outcomes they want. They simply want power, not to share it.

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    Democracy yes. Capitalism no. We have to have socialism as the dominant mode of thinking and policy. Capitalism and the earth cannot coexist. Of course the question is how do we get to democratic socialism? We don’t have an answer for that as the powers that be of multinational corporations have a stranglehold on our politics.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Edward, I agree with your statement: “Democracy yes. Capitalism no.” However, I also agree that one of our greatest obstacles is the fact that, ” the powers that be of multinational corporations have a stranglehold on our politics.” But I don’t know h ow we go about changing that…

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    Democracy as sacred?
    I think we have an answer right there. In 1929, the Canadian government formally recognized ***women*** as “persons!”
    Thoughts for the next 3 weeks:
    1. The GOP is on track to eventually disenfranchise all women and minorities (a la Iran) in obeyance to the fictional “originalist” constitutional doctrine to which the Gang of Hacks is devoted;
    2. The GOP has already announced its intention to either wreck the economy or make drastic CUTS to both SOCIAL SECURITY and MEDICARE, leaving elders without income or medical care—elders, in the GOP world, are meant to die at a reasonable age and stop draining the economy with their uselessness.
    Anyone who continues to vote for this suppressive party can no longer be considered an AMERICAN patriot.

  9. Avatar

    I believe the ideals of democracy are sacred, even though it started in the U.S. already flawed by slavery. I also believe that it requires a sense of community, an idea of the public weal, and it takes a lot of inner and outer work to make it effective. Historically, there has always been opposition to the idea of government by the people and for the people. The increasing materialism of our society undercuts it and is one tool of control by the powers that be, without being too paranoid. We are more and more in love with and dependent on “things”, not one another. I remember getting a liberal arts education, but that seems a remote and quaint concept in these days. Along with all the other authoritarian moves in Florida is the take over of the university system. Public education in the grades k-12 is already geared toward indoctrination of white supremacy and denial of racial history or even the existence of the queer community. If not enough people care about others, and it seems that fewer and fewer do at times, then democracy is dead. I will still work to support people who do care and encourage all to vote, and I hope and pray that you all do the same. The psalms of lament are very apt for these times but also remind us that others throughout the ages have suffered from the abuse of power. It is just that we never before had the tools for total self destruction.

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