Monday, March 2, 2009

Democracy & Salvation

hIn my blog reading this morning I came across some thoughts posted by David Gagnon about democracy, Christianity, and education.  David talked of how new media and web 2.0 technology ("participatory media" I think he called it) have provided opportunities to become world citizens by participating in a global dialogue.  He also spoke of how this participation can be a means of "salvation", which was very intriguing.  I'm not sure that I understand perfectly what he meant by drawing that connection between democratic participation and salvation, but I thought I would articulate some of my thoughts here as an attempt to clarify my thinking.  

It's a little odd to use the two words that appear in the title of this posting together because we generally associate "democracy" with matters of state and "salvation" obviously has some religious connotations.  However, the roots of the idea of "cosmopolitanism" in Greek history suggest that there may be far more parallels to the two worlds than we are willing to admit.  Cosmopolitanism as the greeks used it referred to the belief that an individual was not just a member of the Athenian community or a particulary greek city-state; rather, he was a member of the global community--a "citizen of the world".  This had implications for the way he used his time, knowledge, and skill because he had a unique role to play in the global community and a responsibility to do his part to contribute and make an improvement in whatever way he could.

This idea of continual improvement, albeit through small individual contributions, resonates with me and seems to capture, in part, the idea of salvation that I espouse (that humans posess an innate ability for continual or eternal improvement and that it is in this incremental growth that we can find true happiness).  The opportunities for world-wide discourse that have become a reality with recent advances in technology seem to have an important role to play in this idea of democratic salvation, wherein we work together as a global community to improve our lives and the state of the society that we live in.  

By participating in this global dialogue and voicing our thoughts, ideas, and opinions we provide an opportunity for others to hear our thoughts and be changed or impacted by them.  Granted, much of what is said in an online environment, be it blogs, wikis, etc. isn't likely to be earth-shattering or life-changing (although that might happen at times).  However, I do believe that by continually exposing ourselves to the ideas of others, and then reflecting on them personally, we move towards a closer approximation of truth and are better positioned to live lives of meaning.  Open education has some interesting implications here as well.  Those that are working to provide these sorts of opportunities are providing "saving" opportunities (because of what increased education and knowledge mean for the quality of an indiviual's life and the lives of his/her family) by providing access to learning.  It's hard for me to see how those sorts of opportunities wouldn't "save" lives.  

This is all very rough thinking, so I apologize if it's unclear.  If anyone has thoughts relative to these ideas, please share.  I'm interested in pursuing this, but need some help.

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