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Perspective: Authority vs. Democracy

Photo provided by Dan Kenney

A country hitting against a debt ceiling or a neighborhood transformation: Both bring into question leadership styles.

What does it mean to elect a representative? Are we electing them to think for us or to listen to the majority and vote accordingly?

Leading with authority is thinking you know what’s best for your community even if it is not what the majority of residents want. Democracy is voting for the majority. Either way, the future of a neighborhood ends up in the hands of a few individuals.

As one elected official said recently about neighborhood revitalization, “We do not want to build for the needs of the neighborhood today, but for the neighborhood we want to see.”

It is wrong to make decisions that affect the lives of people without hearing what they want. It is criminal to give them an opportunity to voice their needs and then ignore them.

When this happens, you rob people of hope. And when people lose hope they lose confidence, and the courage they need to make the changes they want to see.

Let’s always watch out for the authoritarian leader who can drain a community of its hope for the benefit of a fearful few who have their eye on the future dollar instead of the needs of the many now.

I’m Dan Kenney and this is my perspective.

Dan Kenney is a retired elementary school teacher and the founder of DeKalb County Community Gardens. He's also a published poet and writer.