Critical Reflection Prompt 1: Getting a Grip
Julia Van Der Ryn

Our mental frames are so important to our society and culture because it determines how we act on certain things. The quote “Cultures live or die by ideas”(6) means that if someone has an idea on how to make the world better and they act on it, they can actually achieve a change. If a group of people have a mental frame of helplessness, like the Indian people under British rule, they can go on living oppressed and not think they can do anything about it. However, someone can have an idea and give a new sense of hope, like Gandhi.

The “thin democracy” that she describes focuses on capitalism, ,which she says leads to a concentration of power and wealth for the wealthy, and keeps the poor people in poverty. She says, “today the CEO earns as much by lunchtime on the first day of the year as a minimum wage worker earns the entire year.”(10) This shows the wage gap caused by capitalism. Another pitfall of thin democracy is that it destroys the open market by monopolizing different industries so that a few big corporations rule an industry. She also explains how thin democracy and capitalism leads to corruption and people using their money to manipulate the government for their own agendas. “Thin Democracy’s demeaning materialism and its concentrated wealth help to swell the numbers of excluded people who feel humiliated and angry.”(17)

Lappe describes ways which she thinks people can transform democracy to overcome problems that we face as a society. Point number 4, power creating, is about how we can use our own power to solve our problems. “Living Democracy widens the circle of problem solvers.. it taps into the experience and insight of people closest to the problem.”(34) I think this is important and related to this class because it means that we can make changes within our own communities since we are the ones experiencing the problems and know how to solve them.

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