I've been thinking a lot lately about how to move from the dependency and passivity that monarchy fosters versus a world in which citizens take greater responsibility for themselves and for the quality of the communities where they live. It's interesting because living in the Arabian Gulf brings this question into sharper focus - an area where colonial rule or monarchy have been the way of life for many years. However, any citizen of the U.S.A. has to recognize that there is a considerable dependence on authoritarianism of a different type - the authoritarianism of dogmatic rule by politicians who presume to know what's good for "the people" when, in reality, much of their energy is focused on privileging the constituents who pay for their campaigns or who have the resources to engage in paid lobbying efforts. So, the question of authoritarianism isn't exclusive to monarchies.
Having attended the recent Brookings Institute meeting in Doha and having met a lot of very interesting people, I have pondered how to move from the passive, dependent state to a more robust and vital way of living. Whether we call that democracy or some other form of governance, I don't know. (Unfortunately, democracy has a pretty bad name these days as a result of the many blatant examples of undemocratic transformation we've witnessed.) That's why the Brookings Institute paper, Upgrading Authoritarianism, intrigues me.
I continue to work on what defines shared and mutually beneficial governance for a long time. I worked with the Kettering Foundation on "deliberative democracy." I've worked on empowerment strategies through inclusive leadership development. I've looked at community as the cohesive core of what draws people together in support of each other. I've toyed with rituals and traditions that shape connections in community. All of these have related purposes - forging shared responsibility for our destiny in communities. What are your thoughts? Do any of these help or is there something else that will help us become the kind of communities that draw the best from us all?