5.a.6 – How to manage an assembly?

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June 17, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

How to manage an assembly?

The Assembly is the primary democratic tool and everyone, when necessary, must be able to use it. To this end, it is surely necessary to know how to express our ideas clearly, but even more important is knowing how to listen, as we cannot claim to be always right. Again we find the need for a degree of humility, as much as to admit our mistakes.
In a meeting, people shall not only speak to state their ideas but also judge objectively what the others say; for this reason, it is also necessary to have time to reflect, to understand, to ask and perhaps to review our beliefs. The model that is often presented to us on television of a democracy based on the debate, on discussions or worse on disputes, is highly disinstructive: with this method, the ideas of those who have the most ready reply or who screams stronger will prevail, surely not the best ideas and the common interest. True democracy is based on dialogue, interrupted by long pauses to think, whose purpose is to seek the best solution for everyone and not to impose one’s point of view, this is indeed the most anti- democratic attitude possible, which reveals a lack of respect for the community.
We have discovered another key concept: the decisions to be taken must be valid for the entire community, the proposals that are made should not be limited to protect the interests of one faction but should actually achieve a collective agreement; choosing a representative to protect our personal or faction interests to the detriment of the others, is not a democratic choice but the exact opposite: it is to place ourselves outside of the community for exploiting it. For respecting the people will, there must be a unite people, which a pool of factions at war with each other obviously is not.
In order to obtain from a meeting the best decisions for the community, it is therefore necessary that values such as tolerance, respect and solidarity are familiar to participants. This is why if we apply a rule known by all, that of the majority, to two peoples who do not respect each other and thus remain distinct, the result is that the largest group, being in majority, will oppress the minority like any ruling class would; this paradox, called dictatorship of the majority, shows us how a prerequisite for democracy is a cohesive group that recognizes itself as such.
At this stage, it is appropriate to stop a moment and talk about the difference between a pluralistic group and one with internal divisions: the first is a group in which there are different opinions and where these are tolerated without weakening the identity of the group, an identity which is precisely based on solidarity, on the esprit de corps and on collaboration; the second is a group in which the different opinions, even if tolerated, push the different factions to identify themselves in different groups, undermining the respect and mutual solidarity; in a short time it will be difficult to still talk of a single group. Pluralism and division are very different because, as we know, the first is an asset for the community because, just like the genetic diversity, it increases the probability of survival; the other instead is a ruin, as it undermines at its foundations the community, which is one of the main resources for the survival of man. For having a democracy is therefore not necessary uniformity of thought, which is harmful, but only respect and solidarity.

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