Democracy is not just a word. Now, less than ever. Democracy has to be lived. In every aspect of our lives. Without living it, how can we understand it?
Democracy is not comfortable. It means having to listen to others. Having to give up something. But, also the possibility of gaining something else.
Getting back to the talk at the Stockholm Goethe Institut, mid-December, with Prof. Dr. Joachim Frank – Nobel Prize Winner. He said something that put the spotlight on how important democracy is. He told us how he had started his formative journey in Germany, attending school within an authoritative educational system. He said, the teaching was conducted top-down. The teachers were the leaders, and the students the followers.
He soon understood that he had to go somewhere else to develop his ideas and to get the challenges he needed. He went to the U.S.A.
The difference between the american and the german educational system was crucial to what later came to be a great discovery and the reason for Dr. Frank being awarded the Nobel Prize.
In America you worked together, solved problems together. To Dr. Frank, this was a much more inspiring and fruitful way of thinking.
The more we have a democratic way of conducting science, the better it is.
And just like Dr. Frank got the Chemistry Nobel Prize together with two others – Jacques Dubochet, University of Lausanne, Switzerland and Richard Henderson, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK – we can all be much better at whatever it is we do if we let others in.
If we think about it – how often do we really come up with something entirely on our own?
Usually, it’s from discussing with others, hearing something somewhere, seeing a film or reading a text someone else wrote, that we get those brilliant ideas. Seeing it that way, every idea is really the fruit of many, many different contributors – most of them not even knowing it.
We simply do not exist in a vacuum, so there you have it – the mere existence of human beings is democratic. Now, we just have to accept that and understand the implications of it in everyday life 🙂
In my work, I have found it both challenging and rewarding to work in a democratic process. It does take longer to reach a decision, but when the decision is made – the democratic process makes sure everybody is on board and stands behind the final outcome. In fact, that saves time and trouble in the end – not having to go back, redo, explain or fight to make everybody see your own point of view.
Trust the process – the democratic process.