What is a “mental frame?” In chapter 1 Lappé writes, “Eric Fromm observes that all human beings carry within us ‘frames of orientation’ through which we make sense of the world. They determine — often literally — what we can see, what we believe humans are made of, and therefore what we believe is possible” (6). Mental frames are an idea of what life is supposed to be like. For instance, we have a frame about marriage; that only men and women can elope. This is why mental frames are so crucial to culture, society, and humanity. It allows people to have something to abide by and follow as a template to life. However, we are constantly challenging the mental frames people have about controversial ideas such as the one about marriage. Today same sex marriage is legal in the United States, and for many people that is completely different from what they grew up following. Frames are meant to be challenged. It starts with an individual taking a step out of what is considered the norm and challenging what people think are fixed.
Lappé mentions the term “thin democracy” in chapter two and the dangers that are a result of it. For instance, in America you need money to live a decent life, otherwise you would be struggling to survive. Although money is such an important aspect in our culture, it actually creates more problems than we expect it to. This happens because wealth isnt evenly distributed amongst the population. One example of this is the game monopoly. Lappé makes a remark about the game and says, “We didnt get it — that to keep the game going, we citizens have to devise rules to ensure that wealth continually circulates. Otherwise, it all ends up in one player’s pile” (10). Another danger that arises according Lappé is, “concentrated economic power, flowing inevitably from a one-rule economy, ends up infecting and warping our political system” (12). We see this today, and have been for many years, when President FDR mentioned it; “When citizens are outnumbered sixty-one to one, private power supersedes power — as FDR warned us seven decades ago” (13). One clear example of today being Donald Trump. When a task you are trying to complete has no purpose or meaning, you are less likely to be motivated to carry that task out. According to Lappé, “thin democracy is dangerously vulnerable because its materialistic premise cant satisfy our higher selves yearning for transcendent meaning” (17). Thin democracy provides a failure to bring meaning which is a really important aspect of life.
The quality of a Living Democracy that I chose was the fifth one; “everywhere, not isolated.” I chose this quality because it encompasses all of them into one. This quality helps us to realize that the values of a living democracy are everywhere, and that you cannot ignore it. “Just mentioning the word ‘values’ unnerves many Americans; they believe we’re hopelessly divided, so best not to go there” (31). Americans need to realize that although we are our own person, as a group we can be stronger than ever. Lappé writes, “the ecological worldview in which Living Democracy is emerging enables us to see ourselves not as isolated atoms but as nodes in networks of relationships” (37). From realizing this, we can become a better improved nation and population.