Bringing deep democracy to life: an awareness paradigm for deepening political dialogue, personal relationships, and community interactions



Democracy in its traditional form is exercised in part through voting, majority rule, laws protecting minority viewpoints and the freedom to listen to all voices. However, democracy is rarely something that we consciously manifest in daily life – whether during political debates, community meetings, personal relationships, or in our internal lives. In this article I describe a few communication methods that make it possible to bring an even deeper form of democracy to life in our moment-to-moment interactions. Leaders, group and community facilitators, and anyone who wants to become a ‘participant-facilitator’ can use this new form of democracy, based on basic awareness principles and methods. The framework I describe is derived from process-oriented psychology, its group process application, called worldwork and its philosophy of deep democracy. I show that without awareness of our moment-to-moment overt and subtle, dreamlike signals democracy is a dream that has not quite happened. With greater awareness, political debate as well as community and personal dialogue can transform into more co-creative and deeply democratic interactions. I also speak about a new kind of leader who can be ordinary and one sided as well as bring awareness and openness to the various people and levels of any interaction. To make my point, I use examples from large group work, the recent presidential race in the United States, as well as personal interactions. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.