‘The shared dream of democracy’

by Chris Zappone

If a citizen’s main function is simply to log on every day and respond to outrage and distortion, the hopes of liberal democracy will diminish. For all the disinformation and propaganda today, there may be no more pressing issue for democracy than the one articulated below in this quote:

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“…In the context of the future of democracy it needs to be noted that our conception of the word’s meaning is, itself, a myth, a kind of fantasy about what ought to be. But such fantasies, when shared by all, connect individuals to each other, providing a common language, a set of ideals, and a program for the future. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg address, Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech are all fantasies, in the sense I am using the word. These fantasies, these dreams, are the legacy of The Enlightenment and have served as the foundation of how we define “democracy.” The question, therefore must arise, Do the new media of communication help or hinder in the development of shared dreams of democracy? Do our movies, TV shows, and songs bind us or loosen us?”

–Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, 1999 

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