A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I thought for the 4th of July weekend I'd post some excerpts from a speech John Dewey gave in 1939 which was titled Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us:

I am inclined to believe that the heart and final guarantee of democracy is in free gatherings of neighbors on the street corner to discuss back and forth what is read in uncensored news of the day, and in gatherings of friends in the living rooms of houses and apartments to converse freely with one another.

Intolerance, abuse, calling of names because of differences of opinion about religion or politics or business, as well as because of differences of race, color, wealth or degree of culture are treason to the democratic way of life. For everything which bars freedom and fullness of communication sets up barriers that divide human beings into sets and cliques, into antagonistic sects and factions, and thereby undermines the democratic way of life.

Merely legal guarantees of the civil liberties of free belief, free expression, free assembly are of little avail if in daily life freedom of communication, the give and take of ideas, facts, experiences, is choked by mutual suspicion, by abuse, by fear and hatred. These things destroy the essential condition of the democratic way of living even more effectually than open coercion.

To take as far as possible every conflict which arises-and they are bound to arise-out of the atmosphere and medium of force, of violence as a means of settlement into that of discussion and of intelligence is to treat those who disagree- even profoundly-with us as those from whom we may learn, and in so far, as friends.

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