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Democracy as Dignity

Dispersions of power, transparency, and mutual accountability.

By Frances Moore Lappé / January 21, 2021

To save the democracy we thought we had we must take democracy to where it’s never been. (Photo: Small Planet Institute)

Originally Published on Common Dreams, January 21, 2021

Celebrating the inauguration of a new president and an end to years of attacks on democracy is a perfect moment to probe together: What do we mean by democracy in the first place?

Here’s where I start.

Beyond our physical essentials, to thrive every human needs to experience three states of being:

First, we need to feel personal agency—to know that our voices count. Philosopher Eric Fromm labeled it as our simple need to "make a dent." Yes, we like to make things happen!

Second, we need meaning—a sense of purpose beyond our own survival.