for me maybe the narrative behind the idea of deep democracy is that so far what we have called democracy is shallow, almost fake, too quick, politician rather than people oriented, solution more than process oriented. Deeper democracy searches for a way of expressing, creating and supporting complex relationships……accepting diversity, exploring history, hidden voices, seeking the essence of how we can all be human together. As the convener of the meeting at NEF this week said ..relationship comes before action. Some of the ideas behind deep democracy and process work that I have found helpful:
Roles are expressions of relationship: I occupy different roles ( father, son, white male,migrant, country dweller..there are many!) at different times, sometimes several roles at the same time, consciously and often unconsciously….these roles are only part of who I am, yet being aware of them and also how they effect my behaviour and identity helps me understand myself , and others.
What is inside me is outside me: I am not independent of the field and climate around me. What is going on out there….the current field of great uncertainty and strong reactions for example…is also going on in the here and now of me. So I can ask myself useful questions such as : what part of me wants a quick answer to my needs? what part of me forgets others? what part wants to help myself before others? What part of me thinks it knows what the problems are? What part of me is afraid of not knowing?
History is not the past: Knowing something about my past is looking backwards in order to deepen the present, going back in order to go forward. Exploring the past helps to discover voices, in me and elsewhere, that have been forgotten or hidden …often because these voices have been dismissed as irrelevant, insignificant. An example for me would be the the ‘ghost’ role (ghost because i dismiss/forget it as unreal) of being half Polish ..how does that ghost influence, flow in me? A larger example of how a forgotten voice can suddenly become very real, how a ghost role can become powerful unless it is acknowledged, is right before us in the result of the American election.
The deep democracy forums we are working with are a way of exploring together some of the important issues we are experiencing now, in a way that all voices are heard, and maybe on the way to creating more consensual change.