A country united by creed

The cement that upholds our democracy is detrioriating. We must resolve to reinforce the institutions, relationships, and beliefs that bind us together.

Kevin Frazier edits The Oregon Way. His day “job” includes running No One Left Offline, a nonprofit that provides folks with hotspots and WiFi, and attending the UC Berkeley School of Law.

Uniting Around a Creed

Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University, recognized that Americans are not connected by shared history, shared geography, nor a shared religion. According to Liu, though, a creed binds us.

What’s that creed? “[A]n abiding sense that every individual, regardless of circumstances, deserves fairness and the opportunity to realize unlimited potential,” at least that was the answer provided by Nobel Prize-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal. After studying Americans in the depths of the Great Depression, Myrdal came to a clear conclusion: this creed is the “cement in the structure of this great and disparate nation.”

Liu doesn’t disagree, but notes that not all cement is created equal. The bonds created by a creed aren’t as strong as those created by, for example, religion. So keeping us all together — as Americans united by a creed — requires more labor and more attention than forming a community around other core values, beliefs, and backgrounds.

Will you attend Civic Saturday?

That’s why he started Civic Saturdays — gatherings designed to unite community members around that creed. The gatherings have no partisan purpose. They are led by community members, not clandestine private parties. They are meant to celebrate what unites us, rather than emphasizing what divides us.

Like religious ceremonies, Civic Saturdays include rituals (as simple as sharing baked goods), readings from sacred texts (think “The Spirit of Liberty,” a speech by Judge Learned Hand), sermons (about, for example, how to get involved in your community), and opportunities to meet new people. Liu, through his organization Citizen University, has trained dozens of Civic Saturday Fellows to lead these gatherings around the country. Thankfully, I just finished my training as one such fellow.

With that training under my belt, I’m in the process of planning my first *remote* Civic Saturday. It will be held in the early Spring via Zoom and focus on what it means to be a democratic participant.

I’d like your help planning this session:

  • Would you like to select and read a sacred text that moves you?

  • Do you have a ritual in mind that can bring us together through a simple exercise?

  • How would you like to connect with new people?

  • Do you have someone in mind that you think would want to help lead this?

My hope is that this gathering will attract Oregonians of all backgrounds and beliefs. This is not a “lefty” event nor a “righty” rally, but a space for us all to celebrate our commonalities and to use that common ground to move the state forward. I’ll need your assistance to make this goal a reality.

Resolving the American dilemma

Civic Saturdays are a space to strengthen the cement of our democracy and to help close the gap between our creed and our reality. Myrdal called this gap “the American dilemma.” It is a problem we all face and that we all have an opportunity and obligation to help solve.

Reinforcing and celebrating our creed is a proven solution to addressing that dilemma. I sincerely hope that you will join me, Alexandria Goddard, Cyreena Boston Ashby and others at our upcoming Civic Saturday gathering on April 3rd, 2021 at 10am PST.

The cement that upholds our democracy is detrioriating. We must resolve to reinforce the institutions, relationships, and beliefs that bind us together.

See you soon. RSVP here.

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Send feedback to Kevin:

kfraz@berkeley.edu

@kevintfrazier

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