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Articles & Essays: 2010
The Democratic Spirit

Our vision for this year’s theme was inspired by Center founder Daisaku Ikeda’s argument that democracy is “a way of life whose purpose is to enable people to achieve spiritual autonomy, live in mutual respect, and enjoy happiness. It can be understood as an expression of human wisdom deployed toward a goal of harmonious coexistence. It is in this sense that it can be understood as a universal principal.” (View Ikeda's full statement on democracy)


2010 IKEDA FORUM: This Noble Experiment: Developing the Democratic Spirit

On November 6th a capacity crowd gathered at the Center to explore the many dimensions of the democratic spirit, with attention to the ways we can advance the "noble experiment" of democracy in the decades to come.


VIDEO FEATURE: Vincent Harding and the Democratic Spirit

The day after the Ikeda Forum, historian, activist, and author Vincent Harding talked with the Ikeda Center about the spiritual, social, and moral dimensions of the democratic spirit. In the first video installment (posted 12/5/10) he explains why the phrase "civil rights movement" is inadequate to capture the deep spiritual yearning and fierce moral determination that motivated the Black-led freedom movement of 1950s and 60s America. In the second installment (posted 1/12/11) Dr. Harding talks about why he calls his friend Martin Luther King, Jr., the "inconvenient hero." In the third installment (posted 2/8/11) he discusses the role of love in struggles for social transformation. The fourth and final installment addresses the topic, "The work of humankind has just begun." VIEW VIDEOS >>


VIDEO FEATURE: Why Dewey Matters for Democracy

In early October, Dewey scholars Jim Garrison and Larry Hickman sat down with the Center for a series of video talks exploring the Deweyian perspective on democracy, education, peacebuilding, American Exceptionalism, and the interaction of ends and means in the quest for social progress. (11 clips, 10/1/10) VIEW VIDEOS >>



Dr. Harding was one of the featured speakers at this year's Ikeda Forum on the Democratic Spirit. Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Harding is a veteran leader of the civil rights movement and a renowned theorist of active democracy.

  • This video posted at PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly features Dr. Harding explaining how the election of Barack Obama was not a mere triumph of the voting process, but rather the result of the efforts of countless thousands of ordinary men and women in the civil rights and related movements.



"Learning Happens Everywhere"
In this essay, written especially for the Center's investigation into the democratic spirit, Jane Roland Martin argues that non-school agents and actors contribute significantly not only to the cultural education of us all, but also to our miseducation. Our failure to face up to this fact, she says, deeply inhibits our abilty to create a thriving democracy. READ >>

"Educating for Global Competency"
In this excerpted article from 2009, Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, explores what he calls the "three A's of globalization: the affective dimension, the action dimension, and the academic dimension." READ >>

"Developing Dispositions for Democracy"
This recent essay by the Center's Mitch Bogen argues that the how of teaching and learning matters as much as the what when we seek to nurture in students the learning dispositions most needed for democratic participation. READ >>

"Value in Every Circumstance"
In this 2010 interview, Gonzalo Obelleiro of Teachers College explores ways that Makiguchi's philosophy of Soka, or value-creating education, is essential for personal and social growth in the 21st century. READ >>

"Active Education, Active Democracy"
This report from a Center-sponsored panel at the 2008 Philosophy of Education Society Annual Meeting proposes that the innovative pedagogies of Du Bois, Makiguchi, and Montessori create the conditions for a flourishing democracy. READ >>



"Making Peace Cultures Happen"
The Center's first public event of 2010 took place on Saturday, March 6. Mary Lee Morrison, Russell Boulding, and Virginia Benson were on hand to discuss the Center's new book, Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen, by Elise Boulding and Daisaku Ikeda. More than that, they honored the coauthors' unceasing efforts in the cause of peace. READ >>

"The Beauty and Strength of Peace Building"
This April 2010 interview with Mary Lee Morrison, author of Elise Boulding: A Life in the Cause of Peace, addresses the essential characteristics and challenges of peace building. The conversation combines insights from Boulding and Martin Luther King, Jr. with an exploration of topics including: the characteristics of peace building in the home, whether peace seekers are passive, and the relationship between women and peace building. READ >>



"Let America Be America Again"
This great Langston Hughes poem of 1938 invokes qualities of paradox and promise in equal measure. Contrasting the reality of the American dream of freedom and equality with the reality of greed and injustice, Hughes nevertheless insists that, through the redemptive actions of all of us, "America will be!" READ >>

This Hughes poem of 1949 was featured in the November 6th Ikeda Forum on the democratic spirit. In a few concise lines, Hughes sketches the moral imperative for inclusive democracy. READ >>



"Democracy and Social Ethics"
Writing in 1915, Jane Addams said, "We know instinctively that if we grow contemptuous of our fellows, and consciously limit our intercourse to certain kinds of people whom we have previously decided to respect, we not only tremendously circumscribe our range of life, but limit the scope of our ethics." READ >>



"Creative DemocracyThe Task Before Us"
This 1939 essay by John Dewey was one of the core background readings for our fall 2009 Ikeda Forum, "John Dewey, Daisaku Ikeda, and the Quest for a New Humanism." In the interest of continuity, and as a way of setting the stage for this year's investigation, we are posting "Creative Democracy" as our first essay of 2010. READ >>



"For David Cicilline"
At the November Ikeda Forum, poet LR Berger shared this poem by Tom Chandler, Poet Laureate of Rhode Island emeritus. Written in January 2002, just a few months after the events of 9-11, it offers a vision of hope in the face of fear. It served as the inaugural poem for the then-new Mayor of Providence, David Cicilline. READ >>



"For Vincent Harding"
After the 2010 Ikeda Forum on the democratic spirit, Ikeda Center publications associate Mitch Bogen composed this poetic tribute to Vincent Harding — friend of the Center, friend of humankind. READ >>


See the Previous Years section for articles and essays from our 2008 focus, "Understanding Death, Appreciating Life" and our 2009 focus, "Humanizing Our Lives, Humanizing Our World."



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