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Meeting the Challenges of a World Divided: Engaging Whole Bodies Politic (Connections 2016)

The six-page article, “Meeting the Challenges of a World Divided: Engaging Whole Bodies Politic” by Harold H. Saunders was published in Kettering Foundation‘s 2016 edition of their annual newsletter, Connections – Kettering’s Multinational Research. For this tenth article of the newsletter, Kettering drew from Saunders book, Politics is about Relationships: A Worldview for the Citizens’ Century, on the five challenges to citizens for more effectively participating in our global political world. Below is an excerpt from the article and Connections 2016 is available for free PDF download on Kettering’s site here.

From the article…

Our country and our world are deeply divided. Too many people have lost the capacity to listen thoughtfully, to talk respectfully, and to relate constructively. A culture of dialogue generated and sustained over time by citizens outside government is critical to peace and to equitable and sustainable economic, political, and social development.

The challenges of our troubled world require political—not just technical—responses. There are some things only governments can do—negotiate binding agreements, make and enforce laws, provide for the common defense, fund public projects and programs. But some things only citizens outside government can do—transform conflictual human relationships, modify human behavior, and change political culture. Only governments can negotiate peace treaties, but only people can make peace.

As John Gaventa wrote, “When aware of their rights and agency, and when organized with others, citizens have the power and capacity to bring about fundamental and lasting change. . . . While the idea of citizen driven change has been around for a long time, it still stands in sharp contrast to many other paradigms which dominate public affairs.”

The conceptual lenses we use to understand events determine how we act. Achieving a fresh way of understanding the world around us requires new conceptual lenses to bring a rapidly changing world into focus. Thus, we must spend some time reflecting on how we think about politics.

To act more productively, we must change our way of understanding how our public world works—a world that is falling behind in meeting its challenges. My aim is to help each of us see the world through new lenses and demonstrate that these can change how we act.

Five challenges top the human agenda at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Responses to all depend on citizens outside government as well as on the governments they constitute.

This is just an excerpt, you can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

About Kettering Foundation and Connections
KF_LogoThe Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

Each issue of this annual newsletter focuses on a particular area of Kettering’s research. The 2016 issue of Connections, edited by KF program officer and senior writer/editor Melinda Gilmore; KF senior associate Philip Stewart; and KF vice president, secretary, and general counsel Maxine Thomas, focuses on our year-long review of our multinational research.

Follow on Twitter: @KetteringFdn

Resource Link: www.kettering.org/sites/default/files/periodical-article/Saunders-Connections-2016.pdf

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