Deep Democracy in Relationships

Welcome to these clips from my online workshop: Deep Democracy in Relationships


What is Deep Democracy?

Deep Democracy is  is a values system, a worldview, a  spiritual practice a psychological orientation, an ecological principle and a political philosophy, among many other things.

As a Values System

It is the belief that every voice matters.

That we are all in this together.

That our ways of relating with ourselves and each other, as well as how we structure and evolve our collective systems, can be generated from listening to and accommodating each other in all our diversity.

And that actually, from including and incorporating all the voices, experiences and perspectives in a system, everyone is enriched and benefited.

That those voices and experiences are valuable in their own right and have a deeper systems intelligence to offer the whole.

Arny Mindell says, “The larger goal of deep democracy is not about me changing you and you changing me. But we learning how to relate.”

And So It Is An Orientation Towards

  • Empowering diversity
  • Experiencing real empathy for the experiences of others
  • Experiencing real empathy for our own experience
  • Working to become aware of our impact
  • Saying the things we usually don’t say
  • Welcoming potentially disturbing voices
  • Being honest about who and what and how certain voices are favored
  • Being open and willing to change
  • The courage to bring in our own experience, whatever that is
    • This means not silencing ourselves when we feel we have power or when we don’t, while working to be aware of ourselves and others in how we do it

Sadhguru says: “‘I want the world to change’ is not a revolution. Being willing to change is a huge revolution. A silent revolution that beings true well-being to humanity.”

As A Spiritual Practice

I consider this to be a spiritual practice, because the real work of living Deep Democracy is so intensely difficult.

We don’t know how to co-exist fully yet in a way that supports all our differences.

We don’t have a good track record of doing this well in recorded human history.

And when we do try, it takes a lot of work.

It takes a lot of time and energy and trial and error.

It takes a lot of facing ourselves, changing ourselves, humbling and empowering ourselves.

It can often involve a lot of conflict, which we are learning how to do more productively, but which we still have a lot to learn about.

It can take a lot of forgiveness and making amends, which we also still have a lot to learn about.

Deep Democracy is not easy and we don’t have an answer for how to do it.

But we are driven by the question, by the quest, by the belief, by the hope, by the wild faith that somehow, it working towards this ideal, we can move towards a more just world.

Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Non-Violent Communication says: “Our needs are not in conflict. Our strategies for meeting our needs are in conflict.”

A Psychological Paradigm

We try to use the tool of a deeply democratic perspective on all levels.

  • Individually:
    • Listening to the voices that we marginalize inside ourselves.
  • Psycho-Spiritually:
    • Allowing ourselves to perceive things outside of consensus reality and our primary identities.
  • Interpersonally:
    • Being open to others and finding ways to support mutual co-existence and thriving.
    • Considering how our relationships may be different then the usual narrative we tell ourselves about them.
  • In Groups:
    • Understanding how rank, power and privilege are structuring the interactions.
    • Designing systems that are open to feedback and allow for diversity including communication styles.
    • Seeing individuals are channels for the world.
    • Finding personal meaning and benefit from difficult conflict and experiences.
  • Globally:
    • Honoring each other.
    • Approaching each other with compassion and curiosity.
    • Engaging in honest dialog with each other.
    • Finding ourselves in the other side.
    • Transforming our social systems.

An Ecological Principal

  • The Earth is our great teacher when it comes to deep democracy.

Starhawk, author of The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups says:

“In permaculture, and actually in biology, we talk a lot about edges. Edges are the places where two ecosystems come together. The edge where the ocean meets the shore has one of the most tremendous amounts of diversity of any biological system. When you are designing your garden, the area around a pond, around your chicken coop, even the edges of the bricks you put around your flower bed, are often the most dynamic places. That can mean the most tension, but they can also be the most fertile, the most creative places.

And I think that’s true for us as humans, that our growing edges are those places where the things we’re comfortable with meet the things we’re uncomfortable with. The things we know meet the things we don’t know… Suddenly, it’s like  having to interact with them in a whole different way, and that’s definitely, for me, a place of challenge and a place of growth and a place of tremendous excitement.

  • One way we connect to the wisdom of nature is through working with Earth Spots.

Again, Starhawk shares her experience on communing with nature:

“There are great powers working with you for the healing of the earth. And when you open up, and when you set yourself toward that goal, then you evoke those powers. And we want to help you. We’re here. But we need to be asked, we need to be called in.”

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