- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

Is Democracy a Basic Social Good?

By:   •  Essay  •  1,567 Words  •  December 2, 2009  •  719 Views

Page 1 of 7

Essay title: Is Democracy a Basic Social Good?

It is a word with no real definition, but rather a word that can be interpreted differently to each individual who uses it. This word is democracy, and it can instill a sense of liberty, freedom, and patriotism at least for many Americans. Realistically, it is a way of life which has a sense of altruism to it; it is for the overall good of a people. In many ways it can be a good and positive thing for a society, and this can be demonstrated in examples that occur in everyday living. My personal feelings and beliefs towards democracy will be viewed next to the views of the great philosopher John Dewy, and those of Native American Chief Oren Lyons.

There are many things in life that we take for granted. It is not every day that I wake up and immediately give thanks that I live in a democratic society, but is more of a subconscious idea that we know exits in our life. I do, however, feel privileged and lucky to live in a country that stands for freedom, equal rights, and active participation by its citizens. It is so tremendous that we as citizens have the power to make decisions for ourselves and the social good. Those are the kinds of ideals of this modern democracy that our founding fathers wanted for all; basically a country for the people, by the people. Democracy is not a very complicated principle, but it is a simple thing that affects our everyday life, no matter how trivial the event. We as a democratic country try and strive for the basic social good. This means that this concept primarily looks out for the welfare and satisfaction of every individual who falls under that government. It is not out to place harsh and unwanted rules and restrictions on its people. Rather, it allows them to take part and have a say in their government, provides them with equality, and gives them a freedom to live a life with no oppressive rule. This liberty which we as Americans possess singles no one person out; it is there for the taking by all.

While the word democracy literally describes a type of political and governmental state of mind, it is not only meant to be used by those in high ranking officials. This term applies to everyone who falls under its rule, and encourages those people to benefit and to be strengthened by its principles. John Dewey describes how it does indeed shape individuals into better people by stating, “…democracy is a personal way of individual life; that it signifies the possession and continual use of certain attitudes, forming personal character and determining desire and purpose in all the relations of life” (Dewey, 2). What better way to add to the basic social good by implementing a way of life which can allow those people affected by it to help each other, and ultimately their government. Dewey also goes to show that since democracy allows for the everyday man to have free speech with his neighbors and to educate himself with public information, that person can use that power to better society as a whole. He also sees democracy as a gift, something so irreplaceable to all who embrace it in saying, “Democracy is the belief that…the habit of amicable cooperation…is itself a priceless addition to life” (Dewey, 3). Here, John is saying that democracy is an act of working together in the society to make it better for all. This is similar to the story of American Indians’ ways of life.

As John Dewey describes how democracy is a good thing which benefits the overall welfare of society, Native American Chief Oren Lyons displays some similarities in his thoughts of how this way of life is profitable. There are instances in which the modern democracy aspect of Definition H was discussed in his speech “The UN Year of the Indigenous Peoples 1993.” This American Ideal, as it is can be referred to, describes democracy as something in which all can participate and where everyone should respect the equal rights of all its citizens. His opening remarks clearly agree with this when commenting, “Our societies are based upon great democratic principles of the authority of the people and equal responsibilities for the men and women…and freedom with respect was everywhere” (Lyons, 1). The Chief here means that the overall good of society, freedom and respect, is a result of the actions and decisions of its participants. These traits of this form of self-government is one of the fundamental characteristics of what democracy is, and Lyons goes to show that since it gave the people liberty and reverence towards each other, it aided to their social good. “This was a great was of life across this Great Turtle Island…”, states Lyons, and his belief was that democracy was something which all prospered by (Lyons, 1). The social good does not only apply to the present time, but to the future as well. Just as we make decisions which will affect persons many years from now, Chief Lyons shows how democracy helped his leaders

Continue for 6 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Is Democracy a Basic Social Good? and other term papers or research documents
Download as (for upgraded members)
Citation Generator

(2009, 12). Is Democracy a Basic Social Good?. Retrieved 12, 2009, from

"Is Democracy a Basic Social Good?" 12 2009. 2009. 12 2009 <>.

"Is Democracy a Basic Social Good?.", 12 2009. Web. 12 2009. <>.

"Is Democracy a Basic Social Good?." 12, 2009. Accessed 12, 2009.