Today is the UN’s International Day of Democracy—a day intended not just to reflect on the state of democracy around the world, but also to shine a light on how each of us personally strengthens and sustains democracy through our own actions.
Given the complexity of humanity’s current challenges, it’s understandable that we might question the impact our individual choices can have on the whole of democracy in our respective countries. Just yesterday in Los Angeles, I was told that “democracy” is too loaded a word, too overused; that it has lost meaning for most people who largely feel removed from the process.
But democracy isn’t something “out there.” It’s right here, with each of us: our aspirations, our desires, our hopes—for our families, communities, countries—and the actions we take every day to make those things real. Democracy isn’t just a word or a process or an idea. It's a practice.
And how we each choose to practice democracy isn't something that can be taken away.
The practice of democracy is personal. And it’s about more than the critical act of voting. It’s about raising our voices, petitioning our governments, running for elected office ourselves. It’s about telling our stories, listening to the stories of others, gathering together, debating, and organizing for what we care about. And all of this participating in civil society adds up. It creates resilience in our democracies. Even in the face of democratic erosion or backsliding. Even in the face of authoritarianism.
So on this International Day of Democracy, may we celebrate the fact that democracy doesn’t just happen on one day; it’s happening all the time. It’s happening right now! Democracy isn’t something far away that we can’t touch or impact. It’s a living, evolving thing that we are creating with our actions every day. And the fate of democracy isn’t in the hands of any one person or any one group somewhere out there. It’s in ours.
To learn more about practicing democracy, keep in touch with us at https://nationbuilder.com/democracy.