Every Voice – Sally Mahé

8 May 2018, 5:43 PM

URI – A Harbinger of a Deeper Democracy

hero_everest_peace (1).jpg

Image from the Everest Peace Project Cooperation Circle, who made a film of their interfaith experience climbing Mt. Everest.

URI – A Harbinger of a Deeper Democracy

Democracy is more than a system of governance that offers a right to vote.  Democracy’s deeper meaning calls forth the best in people and invites them to be leaders. The good news is that people in unlimited numbers are taking initiative to be leaders in their local communities and across borders. Politicians, clergy and business executives are not going away but they are being joined and challenged by new waves of citizens who see a need, reach out, organize and cooperate to make positive change.  

URI Cooperation Circle (CC) members are showing the way for this kind of citizen leadership.  To note just a few remarkable achievements: The Everest Peace Project CC led mountain climbers from different religions to climb Mt. Everest for peace; The CC of Henderson County North Carolina established a Peace Academy to teach townspeople how to deal with difference constructively; CC members in West Bengal gave blood at their local hospital; and CCs in Rio de Janeiro helped to pressure their government for a reduction in arms, just to name a few of thousands of examples happening within our network every day. With over 900 CCs in 104 countries, the numbers of citizen leaders just in URI’s global network is enormous!

It’s not new that ordinary people are undertaking acts of leadership and achieving change. What is new is that they are growing in number, self-organizing, cooperating across boundaries, using collective power, trusting the aggregate of their tiny pushes, and gaining confidence.  URI is part of this emerging force that is unleashing the potential of democracy. Democracy in its truest sense is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

In his book, The People, Yes!, Carl Sandburg (a US poet and writer) hinted at this emerging force many years ago. “’The people,’ said a farmer’s wife in a Minnesota country store while her husband was buying a post hole digger, ‘The people,’ she went on, ‘will stick around and last a long time. The people run the works, only they don’t know it yet – you wait and see.’”

Cooperation Circles Involved

URI of Henderson County, NC

“Our purpose is to promote peace in our community by promoting understanding among the religions present in Henderson County as well as promoting peace inwardly, locally, and globally and to be a sign of peace in our community and world.”

Rainbow CC

"Our purpose: to organize interfaith youth activities to bring about a more harmonious community; to engage youth to participate in interfaith dialogue and decision making; to bring young talent to the forefront; and to bridge the gap between the elderly and youth in a sacred way that creates a common platform from which to address social challenges."