In the past 6 months it has become trendy for folks on Facebook to express what a downer it is to see so many political posts clogging up their news feed. Some have been so turned off that they left social media all together. We all understand that what is happening is that they do not enjoy anyone saying “Hello, from the other side!”
Having taught U.S. Government for a few years, I sense that this election has accomplished something that I had long since thought impossible. Back in the day, I would beg my seniors in high school to become engaged in the process of democracy as a way to make it more healthy, vibrant and responsive to the people being governed. More often than not they would look at me with their dull eyes and say, “I am only taking this class so I can graduate Ms. E.”
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and under-nourishment.
(Robert M. Hutchins, 1899 – 1977)
Things have changed with the 2016 election and I say “Hurrah!” Have you ever seen so many people with strong stands on any number of issues willing to go to press (you know, Facebook) or the streets to share them? That is the definition of a healthier democracy when citizens leave their apathy about government behind and begin organizing demonstrations, donating money to causes, holding the other team accountable and caring about their country in deep visceral ways. I say, the election accomplished what I thought was gone from our country–deeper engagement with the values and goals that we all hold dear.
The democratic ideal in local government implies that active participation of the citizens in local affairs is both a goal in itself and an instrument for strengthening democracy in society at large.
(Kjellberg, F. 1995. ―The Changing Values of Local Government‖ in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol 540, 40)
Maybe we can read our “friend’s” posts with gratefulness knowing that freedom of expression is a value we all hold dear. Testing our own beliefs by listening to the other side is a tried and true way of growing in understanding of how complicated and multi layered are the difficult issues our country faces. It just seems senseless to withdraw into a small, isolationist “unfriending” world. After all, we don’t need government to graduate…we need it for community well being!
“American preachers have a task more difficult, perhaps, than those faced by us under South Africa’s apartheid, or Christians under Communism. We had obvious evils to engage; you have to unwrap your culture from years of red, white and blue myth.
You have to expose, and confront, the great disconnect between the kindness, compassion and caring of most American people, and the ruthless way American power is experienced, directly and indirectly, by the poor of the earth.
You have to help good people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them. This is not easy among people who really believe that their country does nothing but good, but it is necessary, not only for their future, but for us all.”
While many white South Africans were kind, hospitable people under apartheid, they let their government commit racial sins and oppress, he said, advising: “Take care that your institutions are not sinning for you around the world in ways that would make you ashamed.”
Peter calls good-willed Americans and people of faith to be part of a groundswell calling for “being strong in a different way,” because “history shows no empire survives by throwing its military weight around. Having U.S. bases in 200 countries will not save this empire. God has a way of humbling empires.”
Peter Storey, South African Methodist Pastor who worked for 40 years to dismantle the injustices of apartheid.
Outside the western world, education is not “free.” For those living in the underdeveloped world, education is most often funded by fees charged to parents. For many families, school is an expensive privilege that they spend day in and day out clamoring to provide for their children. However, the reality is –there is never enough money to cover all the fees, so if there is money available –it often goes to pay for the schooling of the sons.
Even then, because gathering semester fees is so far out of the reach of a family, boys go to school erratically and often sit out for several semesters at a time while a family seeks to gather the money. While living in Uganda I watched family after family dealing with the weighty burden of collecting money that would cover boarding costs, food costs, uniform costs, exam sitting costs, supply costs and teacher’s salary costs.
For girls to make it to school, they often have to have an outside sponsor who will commit to provide the cost. Whenever circumstances work out just right and a girl gets the chance to go to school, you have a very motivated student!
For societies all over the world educating girls is a stabilizing proposition but Boko Haram finds it more scary than stabilizing as detailed in this New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof.