1) IS HAVING A DEMOCRACY MORE EFFECTIVE IN ADDRESSING POLITICAL CONCERNS?
The answers below, except for item 3, are a composite of what has come out of 3 Christian web sites in trying to answer the above question.
1) Winston S. Churchhill used to say “Democracy is the worst system of government we have, except for all the others.
2) Democracy is more effective, if it upholds the protection and advancement of individual well-being, through good public education, civil liberties, and a largely uncorrupt system of government and justice.If it doesn’t, it’s like a bicycle without wheels. It’s not going anywhere. But on the other hand, it oftentimes becomes very unwieldy, because it only seems that the rich and powerful have an inordinate amount of influence in determining in what direction the government should take in solving these political concerns. In theory, all the people in a democracy should be able to participate equally, but in practice it only seems that the rich and powerful have an effective voice. That’s why in many cases the voter turnout in democracies can be very low in an election. The average person really doesn’t feel he has any voice in the government.
3) On CNN, one listener suggested that since the U.S. has so much influence around the world, the world’s population should have some say in who’s going to be the U.S. President.
2) ONE OBSTACLE IN DEVELOPING A DEMOCRACY IS THE EMOTION OF HATE THAT ONE FINDS IN ABUNDANCE THROUGHTOUT THE WORLD. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS?
The following are comments on the above question that were recorded on 3 Christian web sites.
1) “Turn the other cheek” Matt 5:39, “Love your enemy” Matt 5:38, and pray for them too.
2) “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto the Lord that which is the Lord’s”. Whether we agree with the law or not, we are commanded to obey the law of the land Romans 13:1, unless it violates the law of God.
3) HATE is the emotion that dominates those areas in the world where you find most of the destructive conflicts. LOVE is really the best antidote for this type of emotion, but how does one transmit this LOVE? One answer might lie in a program advertised over Internet (www.seedsofpeace.org) whereby this program invites teenagers from both sides of a conflict to confront each other in a peaceful dialogue, so that they can actually express their own feelings non-violently in a controlled setting. This hopefully would plant the seeds of peace in the upcoming generations.
4) Do not be afraid of differences in individuals. Embrace it and realize that it might be something within ourselves that we don’t like. Learn to love ourselves completely.
5) Learn to accept what we already have and NOT to embrace the “not enough” philosophy, becausein reality, if you embrace the “not enough” philosophy, you will never have enough no matter how much you have.
6) The root cause of hatred could be traced to not enough love. Heal the individual with the manifest lovethat Jesus taught, and the whole will be healed as a matter of course. Love yourself, expand that love toinclude those closest to you, and then to those who mean you harm. Move outward from a solid core of abundant love within. Let the trickle become a stream, then a river, and then an ocean.
3) HOW SHOULD ONE FUNCTION IN ADEMOCRACY?
One should always vote when elections occur, and one should always try to support a candidate who’s running for a particular office. The problem with just supporting a candidate, however, is that there are always going to be issues that you will disagree with your candidate about. To counteract this, and to be more influential in a functioning democracy, you really should be more issue oriented. And to do this, one should take certain action to make sure that what you want to happen on a particular issue is appropriate. But group action would be more effective than individual action, although individuals can engage in lobbying activity as well, if group endeavors are not available.
This action, group or individual, which could be taken in democracies as well as international organizations, should be taken up as follows: 1) An intense study of an issue, 2) Then you should decide how you want that issue changed, or if it should be, 3) If you want it changed, you should then find out which authorities you should contact to effect such a change, 4) Then you should contact these authorities, 5) If the authorities don’t respond to your satisfaction, contact them again (don’t give up), 6) If the authorities continue to be unresponsive, contact them again, but with a threat (use your imagination) that you feel might be injurious to their emotional well-being. But always with an exit strategy that these authorities could use, 7) If these authorities still remain unresponsive, follow through on the threat, and keep in mind other threats that could also be used against these authorities, if they’re still unresponsive, and 8) Continiue with steps 6 & 7, if you’re still unsatisfied with the result of your efforts.
4) IF YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH AN ISSUE THOUGH VERBAL DIALOGUE, THE FOLLOWING IS A PROCEDURE FOR DOING IT.
The Best Approach in Negotiating
1. Participants are problem-solvers, not adversaies nor friends.
2. The goal is a wise outcome reached efficiently and amicably.
3. Separate the people from the problem.
4. Be soft on the people, but hard on the problem.
5. Proceed independent of trust.
6. Focus on Interests, not positions.
7. Explore Interests.
8. Avoid having a bottom line.
9. Invent options for mutual gain.
10. Develop multiple options to choose from; decide later.
11. Insist on objective material.
12. Try to reach a result based on standards independent of will.
13. Reason and be open to reason. Yield to principle, and not to pressure.
SEPARATE THE PEOPLE FROM THE PROBLEM
The People Problem
= Put yourself in their shoes.
= Don’t deduce their intentions from your fears.
= Don’t blame them for your problem.
= Discuss each others perception.
= Look for opportunities to act inconsistently with their perceptions.
= Give them a stake in the outcome by involving them in the process.
= Face saving—Make your proposals consistent with their values.
= First recognize and undestand emotions, theirs and yours.
= Make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as legitimate.
= Allow the other side to let off steam.
= Don’t react to emotional outbursts.
= Use symbolic gestures to defuse the situation.
= Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said.
= Speak to be understood.
= Speak about yourself, not about them.
= Speak for a purpose.
= Build a working relationship.
= Face the problem , not the people.
FOCUS ON INTERESTS, NOT POSITIONS
1) Interests define the problem.
2) Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones.
How do you identify interests
1) Ask “why?” Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
2) Think about their thinking.
3) There probably are multiple interests involved.
4) The most powerful interests are basic human needs.
Security, Economic well-being, A sense of belonging, Recognition, or Control over ones life.
Make a list of these interests, yours and theirs
Talking about interests
1) Make your interests come alive and be specific.
2) Acknowledge their interests as important too.
3) Put the problem before the answer.
4) Look forward, not back.
5) Be concrete, but flexible – Have a number of options.
6) Be hard on the problem, but soft on the people.
INVENT OPTIONS FOR MUTUAL GAIN
1) Invent, don’t decide upon, new ideas – brainstorming.
a) Then develop the better options.
b) Look through the eyes of different experts.
c) Interests could be different.
d) Give several optional preferences.
e) Look for shared interest and differing interests to dovetail.
f) Seek to make decisions easy – Low cost to you and high gain for them.
INSIST ON OBJECTIVE CRITERIA OR EQUAL TREATMENT
What if the other side is more powerful – Develop your own BATNA ( Better Alternationm To Negotiated Agreement ) and discover theirs.
What if they won’t play? Use your own principled negotiator or mediator.
What if they don’t play fair? Keep principled negotiation always in mind.
A POLITICAL CONCERN THAT HAS VERY IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL RAMIFICATIONS.
BIBLICAL ASPECTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT
In Genesis 13:15 God tells Abraham “All the land that you see I will give you and your offspring, Forever” God never considered Ishmael (the founder of the Arabs) part of his offspring, because Ishmail came from Sarah’s handmaiden, not his wife. In Genesis 17:8 it states “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendents after you, and I will be their God” In Genesis 17:21 it states “But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you this time next year.” Jacob, Isaac’s youngest son, who stole the birthright from Esau, Isaac’s eldest son, struggled with God and was thereafter called Israel (He struggled with God) Genesis 35:10. And after the Jews were led to Egypt to live, but eventually held in bondage, God spoke to Moses and said in Exodus 3:17 “And I have promised to bring you out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites”. And when Joshua took over from Moses the leadership responsibilities, God spoke to Joshua and said in Joshua 3:10 “This is how you will know that the living God is among you, and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites—–“. But you notice, even in Scripture, the Israelites were never constantly remaining on the land God gave them. This is because that possession of the land came with a condition-Obedience to God. (Duet 4:1-2 and Duet 30:1-5).
And today, even though they have had their land for more than 50 years, it was founded on a secular, but cultural basis, and continues to be such with very little spirituality contained therein, so they continue to struggle for their land, because of economic jeolousies, or to put it another way, they continue to struggle with God.
Now the permanent restoration of Israel is not specifically mentioned in Scripture, but Jerusalem (the most important city in Israel) is mentioned as being permanently restored. But this, is in reality the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21) coming out of heaven and this would be the true City of Peace, which the name Jerusalem actually means. For Christians the restoration of the Promised Land now refers to the Kingdom of God (a Spirirtual Realm), which comes only through Jesus Christ as stated in Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the Promise”. This promise is the Promised Land, and therefore, for a Christian, the Promised Land is really the Kingdom of God in the hearts of the Believers, regardless of where they lived.
With this in mind, we should then recognize that Israel is only a Sovereign State, just like any other Sovereign State. Therefore, the negotiations are really taking place between a Sovereign State (Israel) and a potentially Sovereign People (the Palestines) and the negotiations should take place on an interest-interest basis (win-win situation), but unfortunately these negotiations are intermingled with religious dogma which do not lend themselves to a win-win situation because of the inflexibility of much of the dogma. Thus the problems between Israel and the Palestines which have to be resolved within this mixture are the current violence, the security for Israel, the Israeli settlements, the 2 state issue, the refugee problem, the Jerusalem situation, and the reconstruction of the Palestinian areas. But in order to do this, the religious dogma has to be toned down to make these negotiations much more of a win-win situation.
CORBIN M. WRIGHT
An Autobiographical Sketch
I was born in New York City in 1931, grew up on Long Island, graduated from Roanoke College in Virginia with a BA in Political Science, and from New York Theological Seminary with a Masters in Religious Education. I became a committed Christian in 1958, and after a number of years became a committed Ecumenical Christian. I worked as an accountant in various companies for about 25 years in New York City, then moved down to Argentina and worked for about 21 years as a Business EnglishConversationalist Teacher with some of the top managers. I also became a Stephen Minister (trained counselor) while down here. I have been married twice (the last to an Argentine), widowed once, no children, one cat.
If you would like to contact me, you could write to me via (firstname.lastname@example.org).