Extracts from "Reclaiming Democracy" by Sam Harris

 

Results (1)

 

Reclaiming Our Democracy chronicles the process of creating political

will-in this case to end hunger and poverty - but it serves as a powerful

tool for anyone concerned about the health of our planet. Political will

is not imposed from the top down by politicians, but comes from the bottom

up, from concerned citizens. This is a story of ordinary people finding

their voice, their power, to effect change.

 

I've been asked to write this foreward partly because I am a celebrity, but

also because I am a citizen and I have my own story to contribute.

 

My Mother, Iva McConnell, was a nurse. She entered her chosen field of

endeavor, medicine, over her parents' objections. The family thought it

unseemly that a young women become a doctor, so Mom went to the

teachers'college, After a few years, she was able to save up money from

the salary she received from teaching in one-room schoolhouses on the

Canadian prairie and pay her own way through nurse's training. She worked

as a nurse on and off until she was past 70, not out of need, but because

she loved the work and the satisfaction it brought her.

 

I speak of this because my mother's commitment to service has had a major

impact on me throughout my life. During all the years I pursued my

passion- the performing arts-a little voice deep inside asked. "But is this

of real value? Should I be doing something of more service-like Mom, who is

a teacher and a nurse?"

 

As things turned out, I have achieved a degree of fame, and that has helped

me have an impact on issues I care about. My "celebrity" has been a tool

I've used to contribute to my community and to my world. But I must make

the choice to do so and find the means. I feel this is true for each one

of us-whatever our "tools"- because we all have ourselves to share.

 

After several years of participating in benefits, actions, projects and

campaigns on children's issues, women's rights, homelessness, the

environment, and on ending hunger, I began to feel that although these were

valuable endeavors, there must be more that I could do-there must be a

stronger and more productive course of action I could take. But what should

it be and what organization should I get behind?

 

Enter RESULTS, in the form of a soft-spoken, powerful, yet immensely

practical visionary, Sam Harris. I had worked peripherally with Sam and

RESULTS for several years, but only after a lunch meeting during one of

Sam's trips to Los Angeles did the power and beauty of the work of RESULTS

actually hit home. We sat across from each other at a Mexican restaurant

on Wiltshire Boulevard and engaged in a real examination of what RESULTS

actually does. My ignorance of the workings of my government and the basic

American political process was a barrier, but Sam persisted: "Val you know

we have the resources to end world hunger. You know we can save the lives

of the 40,000 children under the age of 5 who die each day of preventable

causes. But it's one thing to know it, and it's another to deliver it-to

be able to speak about it powerfully and inspire others to get involved."

 

So I joined with my partners in RESULTS, began to master the facts about

what is possible in ending hunger and poverty, moved into action, and

watched our work unfold. I listened in to a telephone conference call as

30 editorial writers discussed protecting the world's children with the

director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). I moderated a conference

call connecting news conferences in 28 cities, focused on the state of the

world's children. I watched funding priorities change and mortality rates

drop. I listened as 30 editorial writers discussed unleashing the power of

the world's poorest women by providing tiny loans that allow the women to

start little businesses and transform their lives. And the editorial

writers on these calls and the journalists at these news conferences were

all brought together by my favorite "celebrities," RESULTS

volunteers-ordinary citizens who moved from knowing important information

to taking action.

 

The importance of this book is that it shatters the notion "I don't make a

difference," and de-mystifies the question "What can I do?" Reclaiming our

Democracy shows, by example, what we can and must do. It chronicles the

birth, the growing pains, the struggles, and the triumphs of a wish made

manifest-that our lives can contribute to building a saner, safer world

where human dignity is the birthright of each person.

 

My mother's commitment to service is alive and vital in my life and in my

work in RESULTS. And like her, I love the satisfaction it brings me.

Valerie Harper

 

RESULTS (2)

Sam Harris' hands-on account of how to rejuvenate grassroots democratic

participation in America is must reading for both the novice interested in

testing political waters, as well as the experienced activist in search of

new ways to enliven public participation.

 

Reclaiming Our Democracy is inspirational and gives substance to the

long-heeded assumption that every individual can truly make a difference. I

highly recommend this book.

Jeremy Rifkin

Author of BIOSPHERE POLITICS

 

Most of us don't believe we play a part in the decisions made by our

government and , worst of all, don't believe we could play such a role.

This feeling of impotence has lead to years of public apathy which has

turned more recently to public anger. The United States faces a crisis of

democracy which Reclaiming Our Democracy author Sam Harris says will not be

solved until ordinary citizens come off the sidelines and assume their role

as citizen leaders.

 

Reclaiming Our Democracy provides a new vision for democracy-the

development of citizen leaders-ordinary people taking extraordinary action.

It is the story of teachers, doctors, homemakers, insurance salespeople,

and others who've realized the role each of us can and must play in

creating a democracy "as if people mattered." It is told through the

inspiring action of RESULTS, an international grassroots citizens' lobby

committed to healing the break between people and government. RESULTS

focuses on ending world hunger and poverty, but is methods could be used to

address any issue: the environment, education, AIDS and more.

 

RESULTS uses a unique mix of group empowerment and support which includes

national conference calls and an emphasis on developing volunteer

spokespersons. Its activists have played a leading advocacy role in

campaigns which have resulted in a dramatic increase in global immunization

rates, saving the lives of some three million children each year-a

revloution in banking which is providing tiny, life-changing loans to

millions of the world's poorest people-and more than one million people

gathering at candlelight vigils in 75 countries to highlight the 1990 World

Summit for Children.

 

According to Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy, "There is not a

rich lobby in Washington that wouldn't trade its limos for the group's

achievements...." Parade magazine has said of RESULTS: "They defy the

odds."

 

Filled with compelling stories told by dozens of volunteers, Reclaiming our

Democracy is a passionate plea to turn away from cynicism and

discouragement and face what is possible for our future and for our

democracy.

 

"The genius of Harris' RESULTS organization," said Mark Satin in New

Options, "is that it has managed to combine effective national leadership

and structure with effective grassroots education and mobilization. In

fact it has come up with an eminently replicable way of organizing around

decentralist/globally responsible issues and concerns..."

 

Apollo Astronaut Rusty Schweickart has said, " We aren't passengers on

spaceship earth. We're the crew."

 

This is a profoundly wise book which will move and motivate leaders

everywhere-especially those who never dreamed of being leaders.

Robert J Berg - President

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE

 

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