We don’t grow up saying that we are going to have to devote some part of our time to our civic duty. We grow up thinking that we are going to…have a job, we are going to have recreation, we are going to have some time to sleep and rest and make a go of it.
We are not taught that there is something missing here. We have to have, not just our own personal freedoms, you know, we have a lot of personal freedoms, you can buy what you want, eat what you want, get the music you want, travel where you want, date who you want, marry who you want, divorce who you want, and get into a five-thousand pound vehicle and go three blocks to the store to buy Chiclets if you want, that is personal freedom, that is not civic freedom.
Civic freedom comes off of a definition of freedom by Marcus Cicero, the ancient Roman lawyer over two-thousand years ago. He defined freedom the best way I’ve ever heard it. He defined freedom as participation in power, and how much do we have by that definition, at the local city hall, state capital, national capital, world trade organization, NAFTA…what kind of participation?
Societies that call themselves democracies, they can (behave?) ninety-eight percent of the time thinking as long as they have personal freedom, and if you don’t demand civic freedom, that is the real test of a democratic society.–Ralph Nader (UVA, 9/13/2010. Terrible acoustics. If you discern missing or incorrectly transcribed words, let me know)