Volume 4, Number 2, 2009
Democracy is a key to the door of peace. Through the opening of that doorway, peace processes are brought in as responses to conflict with the prevention, or cessation, of violence. Like a field of Ukrainian sunflowers, which symbolize the voices of peace in that nation’s young democracy, the impressions of everyone brighten the sites where people cultivate conflict responses. Communicative engagement, through expressions made with language and art, is a peace process that democracy enables. Success in the process corresponds with inclusion and participation.
Opportunities to turn the democracy key must be ensured by government and taken by the people it represents. Equal distribution of the key can prevent violent responses to conflict as outcomes of injustice. Empowerment through opportunity for participation must be done for the voiceless in every context where conflict has become evident. Through multiple models of facilitating inclusive participation, such as direct and participatory democracy, people and their governments have maximized the opportunity for adding perspectives of situations. Those perspectives are needed to fully illustrate a conflict and identify its sources. Crucial for the creation of conflict responses without violence are more than all voices from the context that a decision will affect. Also needed is non-domination of the less-empowered members. Domination by those who have greater representation in numbers, or more power, corrodes the latch on the peace door. Maintenance of that latch occurs through application of lubricating voices. An optimal ingredient for accomplishing that maintenance has been consensus.
Communication, until consensus, about what to do has been helpful in reduction and avoidance of domination. Instead of decision by majority vote or rule, consensus enables agreement. Concord as the basis of a decision precedes planning and actions for optimal development and maintenance of peace. Examples of consensus in democracy have existed throughout the world, including indigenous practices such as those used by the Iroquois Federation in North America and the Bushman of southern Africa.
Democracy can happen everywhere, starting in our close relations and extending to global decisions. Family democracy occurs through communication about needs from all members, regardless of gender and age. Group democracy includes all ranks of membership. Cosmopolitan democracy includes membership of all groups, which so far are only limited by location on this planet. Our challenges now are representation of other life forms which cannot speak with us---other life forms of this planet and our galactic neighbors (when we connect with them). Encouraging are initiatives and our accomplishments to provide representation of those missing voices. In our range of citizenship as family and group members we have endless opportunities to use and improve our use of democracy.
Author: Gila Svirsky
Author: Bill Bigelow
Author: Tetyana S. Koshmanova
Performing and VisualArts
Artist: Image artist