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Nurturing Democracy: From the Kitchen Table to Society

Nurturing Democracy: From the Kitchen Table to Society

 

February 18, 2024

 

The smallest unit of democracy lies within the confines of the family home, where the seeds of democracy and dissent are sown and cultivated. However, in many households, this nurturing ground for democratic values is overshadowed by autocracy, leading to many social issues, including frustration, anger, and aggression.

Recent observations highlight a disturbing trend of rising aggression and violence, particularly within domestic and relational settings. This surge can be attributed to various factors, with economic hardship playing a significant role. In Curaçao, where over thirty percent of households live below the poverty line, single-parent households are typical, often with absent fathers. Mothers juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet, leaving children in the care of relatives, friends, or neighbors, where guidance may be lacking or inconsistent with parental values.

Within these households, decision-making tends to be autocratic, with children often silenced or dismissed with phrases like “because I say so.” Dialogue and explanation are rare, stifling the development of critical thinking and expression. Consequently, children from Curaçao may lag behind their peers from countries like the Netherlands or Venezuela in articulating their thoughts and opinions, contributing to a perceived deficiency in “brain power,” as a former prime minister lamented.

The root of this issue lies in the absence of a democratic ethos within the family unit. Individuals grow up ill-equipped to navigate conflicts or express themselves constructively without opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue and dissent. Frustration festers, leading to outbursts of anger and, in extreme cases, violence.

The solution to this societal malaise is fostering a culture of dissent within families. Parents and caregivers must embrace open communication, encouraging children to voice their thoughts and opinions, even when they differ from their own. Parents should model respectful conflict resolution instead of resorting to authoritarian tactics, teaching children to engage in constructive dialogue.

Moreover, education systems must prioritize critical thinking and communication skills, empowering future generations to participate actively in democratic processes. By nurturing an environment where dissent is valued and respected, Curaçao can cultivate a more inclusive and resilient society.

In conclusion, democracy begins at home, where the foundations of civic engagement are laid. By fostering a culture of dissent within families, Curaçao can address the root causes of frustration, anger, and aggression, paving the way for a more peaceful and democratic future.

 

Miguel Goede

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