Potluck for Democracy

Screenshot 2024-03-12 at 12.10.43 PM

Yesterday, I publicly announced PTU’s newest initiative: Potluck for Democracy. I made the announcement on a webinar hosted by the Parliament of the World’s Religions as a part of their FOCUS24 | Faith, Democracy & Our Common Future: Shaping a Path Forward. FOCUS24 is a year-long interfaith series building capacity, fostering community, and advancing advocacy efforts in this critical “year of democracy.”
The webinar brought together leaders of religious communities and interfaith councils to discuss how their organizations can make a positive contribution to civic life. How can communities of wisdom be role models in addressing major social issues, responding to moral challenges, and fostering more unity among Americans?

I was honored to be in conversation with Michael Trice of the Seattle University Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement, former mayor of New York City Bill DeBlasio, Chair of the Parliament’s Global Ethic Committee Charline Manual, President of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Frank So, and Rabbi Danny Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle.
I spoke about how PTU is working to address the de facto segregation of cultural and religious groups from each other, how we are countering the falsehoods and dehumanizing narratives that have gained traction as a result of that isolation.
I made the argument that we are being tempted with two lies:

One: That our identity can be reduced to our political party affiliation or political ideology.

Two: That the only way to keep a diverse society stable is to maintain a caste system in which one group is in power and has first access to the benefits that society offers.
Those who buy into the first lie can’t debate or wonder or learn. The existence of people who disagree with us is perceived as a threat to our very identity and even our existence.
Those who buy into the second lie seek dominance, seek to be at the top of the caste system. These people often claim that their group has divine blessing to dominate others. About 40% of voters in the US believe that White Christians should be on the top of a caste system and that democracy is now a hindrance to their goal.
My argument to the panel was that we do have the power to strengthen our flawed but valuable democracy – if we take action on a local level, one community at a time, through face-to-face relationships.
Potlucks for Democracy are a relatively simple first step that we are proposing to communities of wisdom, civic organizations, service clubs, and engaged citizens who want to gather neighbors to build relationships across difference.
When people of diverse traditions and cultures get to know one another, enjoy a meal together, learn more about each other’s lives and hopes, we realize that

  • we have many identities – human beings cannot be reduced to a party affiliation, and
  • we can live together and respect each other – and our differences are an asset for a pluralistic democracy.

We can all reclaim our identities, our democracy, and our power as citizens – right where we live, right now and anytime in the election cycle. Our Potluck for Democracy toolkit has everything you need to plan and host a successful potluck. Download your toolkit here.


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