The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people's differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience.
— Jerome Nathanson (1908-1975), a leader of New York Ethical Culture
Democracy means not "I am as good as you are," but "you are as good as I am."
— Theodore Parker
IN TODAY'S SESSION . . .
A piece of chalk symbolizes the democratic process, a value imbedded in the fifth Unitarian Universalist principle: We value the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. The children learned about and experienced various modes of democratic process to illustrate that Unitarian Universalism is a faith that will help make each voice count, both in our congregations and in our world.
The children reflected on advantages and disadvantages of consensus-making and voting. They discussed whether majority rule is a fair process. We emphasized that we hope people have a say in the things that concern them. They experienced how consensus incorporates negotiation and a forum for every voice to be heard, helping a group to achieve informed decision-making.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about . . .
Today, we face social and political issues that raise the same level of controversy as women's suffrage did in Olympia Brown's time. Some of these are equal marriage, abortion rights, and prayer in school. In our congregations, as well, we often face controversy.
Think about these questions, and share your reflections with your child:
- What does your vote — your voice — in democratic process mean to you?
- In what way(s) does your use of your voice or vote in group, congregational, or political decision-making reflect a Unitarian Universalist spiritual practice?
- How well do you think our democratic processes help us toward outcomes?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try . . .
Use the democratic process as a family to decide on age-appropriate projects, such as what to eat for dinner, which movie to watch, or where to go on a weekend outing. Mention that Unitarian Universalism encourages people having a say in the things that concern them.
On the PBS Kids website, find some fun, educational interactive pages in a section called The Democracy Project. Learn about times in United States history when one vote has made a difference. Young users can cast a vote about current issues.