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In the social sphere, we need to develop families, friendships, community organizations, and workplaces that empower the greatest number of people to the maximum degree feasible. Hierarchies are necessary, for society needs structure and authority. People in power need to give directions and trust that those directions will generally be followed. But the legitimacy of power is not automatic. Authority depends on whether power is exercised wisely. Power needs to serve the common good and not just selfish gain. Power needs to be willing to delegate. Power needs to listen. Power needs to follow as well as lead. Power needs to treat people as the human beings that we are.
Human progress is characterized by the spread of democracy throughout society. Democracy consists of more than an occasional election. Democracy affirms the equal value of all people and insists that everyone should be free in all aspects of their life. Democracy, and its principle of equality, does not assume that everyone is identical, should have the same income, or vote on every issue. But democracy does assume the right of self-determination and that all people should be equal before the law and have a real voice in affairs that concern them whenever feasible. Democracy is based on the proposition that because all people are equal in the eyes of God, we should treat each other as equals and help each other become more fully empowered. Consequently, we need to maximize democracy and empowerment in all of our institutions.
Our entire society, in fact, should be a network of overlapping supportive, democratic communities that provide people with opportunities to overcome isolation and engage in meaningful social activities. Our schools, religious institutions, neighborhood centers, recreation centers, parks, community centers, labor union halls, civic associations, and libraries should be devoted to facilitating the development of participatory communities that foster the formation of mutually supportive friendships and social engagement. We need to constantly invent new forms of community that encourage cooperative problem solving, self-help, and mutual support. Caring for one another best happens spontaneously. But we can design formal structures that facilitate natural human support. Without community, the individual withers.
Resources in this section reflect this perspective.
Service Organizations includes community building resources.
Also see Politics and Government/Service Organizations/Community Dialogue Tools.
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