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I bring you greetings
from the 52nd-freest nation on earth.
As an American, it irritates me that my nation keeps sinking
in the annual rankings published by Freedom House.
I'm the son of immigrants.
My parents were born in China during war and revolution,
went to Taiwan and then came to the United States,
which means all my life,
I've been acutely aware just how fragile an inheritance freedom truly is.
That's why I spend my time teaching, preaching and practicing democracy.
I have no illusions.
All around the world now,
people are doubting whether democracy can deliver.
Autocrats and demagogues seem emboldened,
even cocky.
The free world feels leaderless.
And yet, I remain hopeful.
I don't mean optimistic.
Optimism is for spectators.
Hope implies agency.
It says I have a hand in the outcome.
Democratic hope requires faith
not in a strongman or a charismatic savior
but in each other,
and it forces us to ask: How can we become worthy of such faith?
I believe we are at a moment of moral awakening,
the kind that comes when old certainties collapse.
At the heart of that awakening is what I call \"civic religion.\"
And today, I want to talk about what civic religion is,
how we practice it,
and why it matters now more than ever.
Let me start with the what.
I define civic religion as a system of shared beliefs and collective practices
by which the members of a self-governing community
choose to live like citizens.
Now, when I say \"citizen\" here, I'm not referring to papers or passports.
I'm talking about a deeper, broader, ethical conception
of being a contributor to community, a member of the body.
To speak of civic religion as religion is not poetic license.
That's because democracy
is one of the most faith-fueled human activities there is.
Democracy works only when enough of us believe democracy works.
It is at once a gamble and a miracle.
Its legitimacy comes not from the outer frame of constitutional rules,
but from the inner workings of civic spirit.
Civic religion, like any religion,
contains a sacred creed, sacred deeds and sacred rituals.
My creed includes words like \"equal protection of the laws\"
and \"we the people.\"
My roll call of hallowed deeds includes abolition, women's suffrage,
the civil rights movement,
the Allied landing at Normandy,
the fall of the Berlin Wall.
And I have a new civic ritual that I'll tell you about in a moment.
Wherever on earth you're from,
you can find or make your own set of creed, deed and ritual.
The practice of civic religion is not about worship of the state
or obedience to a ruling party.
It is about commitment to one another
and our common ideals.
And the sacredness of civic religion is not about divinity or the supernatural.
It is about a group of unlike people
speaking into being our alikeness,
our groupness.
Perhaps now you're getting a little worried
that I'm trying to sell you on a cult.
Relax, I'm not.
I don't need to sell you.
As a human, you are always in the market for a cult,
for some variety of religious experience.
We are wired to seek cosmological explanations,
to sacralize beliefs that unite us in transcendent purpose.
Humans make religion because humans make groups.
The only choice we have is whether to activate that groupness for good.
If you are a devout person, you know this.
If you are not,
if you no longer go to prayer services
or never did,
then perhaps you'll say that yoga is your religion,
or Premier League football,
or knitting, or coding or TED Talks.
But whether you believe in a God or in the absence of gods,
civic religion does not require you to renounce your beliefs.
It requires you only to show up as a citizen.
And that brings me to my second topic:
how we can practice civic religion productively.
Let me tell you now about that new civic ritual.
It's called \"Civic Saturday,\"
and it follows the arc of a faith gathering.
We sing together,
we turn to the strangers next to us to discuss a common question,
we hear poetry and scripture,
there's a sermon that ties those texts
to the ethical choices and controversies of our time,
but the song and scripture and the sermon
are not from church or synagogue or mosque.
They are civic,
drawn from our shared civic ideals
and a shared history of claiming and contesting those ideals.
Afterwards, we form up in circles to organize rallies, register voters,
join new clubs, make new friends.
My colleagues and I started organizing Civic Saturdays
in Seattle in 2016.
Since then, they have spread across the continent.
Sometimes hundreds attend, sometimes dozens.
They happen in libraries and community centers
and coworking spaces,
under festive tents and inside great halls.
There's nothing high-tech about this social technology.
It speaks to a basic human yearning for face-to-face fellowship.
It draws young and old, left and right,
poor and rich, churched and unchurched,
of all races.
When you come to a Civic Saturday and are invited to discuss a question
like \"Who are you responsible for?\"
or \"What are you willing to risk or to give up for your community?\"
When that happens, something moves.
You are moved.
You start telling your story.
We start actually seeing one another.
You realize that homelessness, gun violence, gentrification,
terrible traffic, mistrust of newcomers, fake news --
these things aren't someone else's problem,
they are the aggregation of your own habits and omissions.
Society becomes how you behave.
We are never asked to reflect on the content of our citizenship.
Most of us are never invited to do more or to be more,
and most of us have no idea how much we crave that invitation.
We've since created a civic seminary
to start training people from all over to lead Civic Saturday gatherings
on their own, in their own towns.
In the community of Athens, Tennessee,
a feisty leader named Whitney Kimball Coe
leads hers in an art and framing shop
with a youth choir and lots of little flags.
A young activist named Berto Aguayo
led his Civic Saturday on a street corner
in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago.
Berto was once involved with gangs.
Now, he's keeping the peace
and organizing political campaigns.
In Honolulu, Rafael Bergstrom,
a former pro baseball player turned photographer and conservationist,
leads his under the banner \"Civics IS Sexy.\"
It is.
Sometimes I'm asked, even by our seminarians:
\"Isn't it dangerous to use religious language?
Won't that just make our politics even more dogmatic and self-righteous?\"
But this view assumes that all religion is fanatical fundamentalism.
It is not.
Religion is also moral discernment,
an embrace of doubt,
a commitment to detach from self and serve others,
a challenge to repair the world.
In this sense, politics could stand to be a little more like religion,
not less.
Thus, my final topic today:
why civic religion matters now.
I want to offer two reasons.
One is to counter the culture of hyperindividualism.
Every message we get from every screen and surface
of the modern marketplace
is that each of us is on our own,
a free agent,
free to manage our own brands,
free to live under bridges,
free to have side hustles,
free to die alone without insurance.
Market liberalism tells us we are masters beholden to none,
but then it enslaves us
in the awful isolation of consumerism and status anxiety.
(Audience) Yeah!
Millions of us are on to the con now.
We are realizing now
that a free-for-all is not the same as freedom for all.
What truly makes us free is being bound to others
in mutual aid and obligation,
having to work things out the best we can in our neighborhoods and towns,
as if our fates were entwined --
because they are --
as if we could not secede from one another,
because, in the end, we cannot.
Binding ourselves this way actually liberates us.
It reveals that we are equal in dignity.
It reminds us that rights come with responsibilities.
It reminds us, in fact,
that rights properly understood are responsibilities.
The second reason why civic religion matters now
is that it offers the healthiest possible story of us and them.
We talk about identity politics today as if it were something new,
but it's not.
All politics is identity politics,
a never-ending struggle to define who truly belongs.
Instead of noxious myths of blood and soil that mark some as forever outsiders,
civic religion offers everyone a path to belonging
based only a universal creed of contribution, participation,
In civic religion, the \"us\" is those who wish to serve,
volunteer, vote, listen, learn, empathize, argue better,
circulate power rather than hoard it.
The \"them\" is those who don't.
It is possible to judge the them harshly,
but it isn't necessary,
for at any time, one of them can become one of us,
simply by choosing to live like a citizen.
So let's welcome them in.
Whitney and Berto and Rafael are gifted welcomers.
Each has a distinctive, locally rooted way
to make faith in democracy relatable to others.
Their slang might be Appalachian or South Side or Hawaiian.
Their message is the same:
civic love, civic spirit, civic responsibility.
Now you might think that all this civic religion stuff
is just for overzealous second-generation Americans like me.
But actually, it is for anyone, anywhere,
who wants to kindle the bonds of trust,
affection and joint action
needed to govern ourselves in freedom.
Now maybe Civic Saturdays aren't for you.
That's OK.
Find your own ways to foster civic habits of the heart.
Many forms of beloved civic community are thriving now,
in this age of awakening.
Groups like Community Organizing Japan,
which uses creative performative rituals of storytelling
to promote equality for women.
In Iceland, civil confirmations,
where young people are led by an elder
to learn the history and civic traditions of their society,
culminating in a rite-of-passage ceremony
akin to church confirmation.
Ben Franklin Circles in the United States,
where friends meet monthly
to discuss and reflect upon the virtues that Franklin codified
in his autobiography,
like justice and gratitude and forgiveness.
I know civic religion is not enough
to remedy the radical inequities of our age.
We need power for that.
But power without character is a cure worse than the disease.
I know civic religion alone can't fix corrupt institutions,
but institutional reforms without new norms will not last.
Culture is upstream of law.
Spirit is upstream of policy.
The soul is upstream of the state.
We cannot unpollute our politics if we clean only downstream.
We must get to the source.
The source is our values,
and on the topic of values, my advice is simple: have some.
Make sure those values are prosocial.
Put them into practice,
and do so in the company of others,
with a structure of creed, deed and joyful ritual
that'll keep all of you coming back.
Those of us who believe in democracy and believe it is still possible,
we have the burden of proving it.
But remember, it is no burden at all
to be in a community where you are seen as fully human,
where you have a say in the things that affect you,
where you don't need to be connected to be respected.
That is called a blessing,
and it is available to all who believe.
Thank you.


【TED】 民主主義の中でどうやって自分の信念を持ち続けるのか( 【TED】How to revive your belief in democracy | Eric Liu )

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林宜悉 2019 年 5 月 25 日 に公開
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