When people are framed as consumers, society becomes little more than a marketplace. Social problems get treated with individualized, market-oriented solutions — where each consumer-citizen is solely responsible for spotting deceptive practices and avoiding unfair schemes — instead of collective, rights-based protections. For instance, protecting against predatory financial institutions and data brokers is a duty largely shouldered by individuals, who must remain ever vigilant against companies that hide in the shadows and track our every move. The more marginalized and vulnerable you are, the more likely you are to be targeted and the less likely you are able to defend yourself.
Every day of your life you move through systems of power that other people made. Power is no more inherently good or evil than fire or physics. It governs how any form of government works; it determines who gets to determine the rules of the game. So, learning how power operates is key to being effective, being taken seriously, and not being taken advantage of. In this series, we’ll look at where power comes from, how it’s exercised, and what you can do to become more powerful in public life.
The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up – ever – trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?