Participation is the essential and central element of democracy. There is no true democracy without participation. Every democracy has to be participatory. The participation in political life is an expression of what human being is, of its dignity and responsibility for others and for the common good. Characteristics of human dignity are that the person is a subject of social life, never a passive object or an instrument. For that reason is so important to participate.
Social Doctrine presents us the participation as a right and also as a duty of people.
Participation is a right because it lets human being to express as an active subject, to be a protagonist. And it is a duty because of its expression as the responsibility to the others and to the social life. With participation, we collaborate to build a social life more righteous and more human. We also develop our own building as people.
Sometimes, we think that voting is the only way to participate in the social and political life. But this is no true. Voting is important but insufficient. Participation must extend to every scope of social life. From participation in the family, the work, the enterprise, the school or the neighborhood to participation in taking decisions locally and generally.
Participation is a personal and social needing which demands three things.
Liberty and responsibility: Wanting to participate. If there is a blurry awareness about the importance of participation, that is not produced.
Channels favoring participation: social organizations allowing us to participate and institutional channels for participating in taking decisions.
Dignified life conditions. If we have never-ending work timetables, when have we time to participate?
In our society, those three factors are weak and there are a low number of channels to participate. But, above everything, the dominant culture is anti-participatory because it builds a way of feeling, thinking and acting too individualistic and hedonistic, giving a low value to social life. That weakens the value of responsibility to the others and to the community.
We need to fuel the awareness about the importance of participation.
Participation in community life is one of the pillars of all democratic orders and one of the major guarantees of the permanence of the democratic system. It is therefore clearly evident that every democracy must be participative.
Social Doctrine Compendium n.190
How would you explain the importance of participation in political life?
What would you say to a person thinking that participation is not important?