Society of Kings

A greater democracy emerges when people in unlimited numbers become leaders cross borders and cooperate with each other. Now is the time to nurture, as Lawrence Hillman suggests, a “society of kings.” This means a reliance on and a confidence in ordinary people who by the hundreds and millions, are taking “kingly leadership” and cooperating together for the common good.

People are moving away from looking to presidents, priests, executives and heroes to solve global problems, do justice, control resources and make history for the rest of us. Of course, traditional leaders are not going away – but they are being joined and challenged by new waves of leaders.  Critical needs and people’s initiatives plus the access to global communication are creating these conditions.

Look around and find these folks yourself.  Mountain climbers from different religions summitted Everest for peace among religions; folks in Hendersonville North Carolina established a Peace Academy to teach townspeople how to deal with difference constructively; tough young men from West Bengal India gave blood at their local hospital and were honored; thousands of citizens in Brazil successfully pressured their government for a reduction in arms sales. The list goes on…

Paul Hawken in his book, Blessed Unrest, estimates over 1 million non-profit organizations are now focused on creating a more just and healthy planet. Imagine the number of people involved!  It’s not new that ordinary people, citizens of every country, are undertaking acts of leadership and achieving change. What is new is that they are growing in number, using collective power, trusting the aggregate of their tiny pushes, and gaining confidence. This trend must be publicized by media and celebrated and nurtured by all of us.

In his book, The People, Yes! Carl Sandburg hinted at this emerging force many years ago. “The people,” said a farmer’s wife in a Minnesota country store while her husband was buying a post hole digger, “The people”, she went on, “will stick around and last along time. The people run the works, only they don’t know it yet – you wait and see.”

Sally Mahe


Time of turning…toward a greater democracy

Time of turning….toward a greater democracy

Recently I heard Duane Elgin speak about this book, The Living Universe. Elgin had researched the question, “how do the spiritual traditions of the world regard the universe?” He discovered that at their depth there is a common understanding. Islam says that, “each moment is an occasion for Allah to create the universe.”  The Gospel of Thomas proclaims, ‘the kingdom of heaven is spread out before them and they do not see it.” Elgin studied similar findings coming from science -  that the Earth is being renewed at every moment but that we are unaware of it. Elgin says that science is now pointing toward the spiritual. Science is finding that the universe is a deeply mysterious, connected living system, most of which is still unseen and undiscovered. For hundreds of years humanity has separated itself from the mystery of the universe. We used nature to increase our own material prosperity. We saw ourselves separate from and superior to nature. Now is the time for ” the great turning”  a time for people everywhere to turn from disconnect with, misuse of and separation from nature – and turn to connecting in mutually cooperative ways and acting with common purpose as part of nature.

So what does this have to do with a greater democracy? A greater democracy is a phrase that can pull us forward.  It helps us see what our role and responsibility as members of the human race is at this time. It conveys an idealism that every person matters, every voice counts, people can decide better ways to live together, and that diverse people will contribute their best to achieve the common good. It is a phrase that can act like a light at the end of a tunnel – enticing us to grow up as a species. A greater democracy contains a promise and a destiny. It identifies us as a humanity bound for mutual respect, cooperation and unity. If we limit our understanding of democracy to a governance system, or a set of values that protects human freedoms but that creates messy politics subject to misuse and manipulation we may not survive as a human race. It is time for humanity to grow up and for democracy to mean something more to us.

A greater democracy acts like a looking glass for us to peer into and imagine the future while still living in the reality of the present. It is not good enough anymore to go about our business unconscious of the power our thoughts and behaviors have on the future. We can impact the future with our intentions in the present. We have a job to do. We can imagine what a greater democracy would be like. We can set the stage for a greater democracy in our mind’s eye. Let us be motivated by visions of ourselves and people everywhere creating a new kind of life of Earth. Wisdom traditions speak of a Golden Age, Heaven on Earth, Enlightenment. An accelerated turning toward this higher potential in concert with the universe has begun. We are needed to imagine it. Believe in it. Act on behalf of it. We can contribute to the future with our intentions, visions and actions. We are needed. Now is the time.

Sally Mahe
Director, Organization Development
United Religions Initiative


Susan Boyle and Us

“There is energy,  passion, unawakened life in us….”  Mary P. Follet

Yes, please count me among the people who cried (even wept)  when we watched Susan Boyle sing “I Dreamed a Dream” on  Britains Got Talent TV show.  My emotion didn’t  recede until after three or four viewings and a walk in brisk San Francisco air. I’m not sure how many of us among the 26 million plus viewers  felt (from somewhere in our unconscious) that some part of us in that moment was Susan. 

As I passed the internet link forward to family and friends I wrote, “words cannot express.”  This entire experience went straight to my soul. It felt good in that moment  just  to feel  it without explaining it.  For a few minutes we saw a plain, middle age woman powerfully intent to sing her song and ”rock  her audience.”

In the seconds she set herself to sing, she changed. She didn’t swing her hips or flap an attitude in tune with the show’s brassiness.  She set herself. Her power came from inside, her talent burst from inside, the song came from her heart.  

Yes, yes, yes!  says spiritual democracy – this is what it ’ s all about.  Mary Parker Follet, a visionary of democracy in the early 20th century said, “there is energy, passion, unawakened life in us, those who call it forth are our leaders.” Follet goes on to say, “that a job of a teacher to a student is to make him feel, (to quote H.G. Wells), that we are filled with almighty power…against which the forces of hell, of destruction, of caprice, and of the lawlessness of the jungle cannot prevail.”

 We weep at Susan’s stunning performance because we love stuff like that that is inside of ourselves. As great as her singing talent is, the greatness about her for us viewers is the message conveyed that we are like her in some way. There is more of us untapped, we know it…and need to find it, perhaps to have it coaxed out of us . 

What if we began to look at one another with an expectation to find something more?  Let’s drop cynicism  and  negative judgment like the audience did for Susan.  

Let’s imagine new attitudes and structures in family, education, governance, business and service that start from a conviction that we (each person) is on his and her  way towards  greater authenticity. The attitudes of people around us and the structures we find ourselves in will accelerate and serve us in our journey or diminish and block us. Let’s  make these structures serve us better. We are helping to create a greater democracy for all when we do.  Even though Susan is now getting tons of attention and media hoopla,  Susan’s phenomenal story for our emerging global humanity –  is about us.  

In case you haven’t seen Susan Boyle’s famous Youtube feature, go to:



Tony – A Citizen’s Heart in Action

Tony – A Citizen’s Heart in Action

I would love to offer a story to complement the heady ideas we awaken to when we read quotations about a “greater democracy” and when we search for language to try and explain it or to have conversations about this new evolution for humanity.

This story taught me that even without having words to understand spiritual democracy we can see it in action if we look. Yesterday my daughter and I simply did an errand to the shoe and luggage repairman in town. A week earlier I had brought in her winter boots which he described as “tire blow outs.”

As we entered the tiny shop, to the left was a jumble of broken luggage – all around shoes akimbo – were piled high in various states of disrepair, worn-outness and … renewal. It was one of those shops that’s disappearing in America – a good and messy shoe repair place. It was a busy Saturday morning. Tony, the proprietor was present – beaming warmly. As he handled our order, with a little banter of conversation and a caring demeanor he looked at us and offered, ”you’ve done a good job raising a fine daughter and she can be a guide and helper to you.”  An unexpressed “higher self” in Katie and me woke up. I wasn’t a Mom just wondering vaguely how my life would intersect with hers as she made her way in graduate school, Katie wasn’t a young adult vaguely wondering how she might be called in to care for me someday. This little remark shifted our consciousness. We felt uplifted. We weren’t exactly sure how this shift happened in us - the vibration of Tony’s generous spirit? his warmth? the insightful comment? Katie said, “I’m always coming back here.”

I reflected a little. Here is Tony, like the shoe cobbler archetype from fairy tales, giving humble service to “journeyers” every day. He mends things people need for their journey – shoes and suitcases. While doing that, he offers deeper, greater things too. He works with a peaceful, giving spirit and an honest joy. When we are with him, we are changed. His heart-gift touches us and lifts us to a better place, a higher “see level” so to speak.

Yes, Tony is a change agent for spiritual democracy without proclaiming it. He has a quality of personhood and a deep human spirit that he brings to his daily role as a citizen.

As we reach for how to further the high ideals of a greater democracy – let’s be on the look out for people you know, who, like Tony are living it right now. If we share stories about them we may help our dear friend, spiritual democracy, rise up from our hearts and be known. Our intellect will then happily craft the words that will flow from our knowing hearts.

Please do send blogs of people you see as change agents or culture shifters - either well known or not known at all. Let’s share stories and this wealth of information.


My First Date with Spiritual Democracy

Dear friends,


You might say that the book, A Greater Democracy Day by Day, was my ”first date” with spiritual democracy. Even though we (me and this amazing idea) had been mutually attracted for many years, doing that book was the first time we stepped out together to begin to help bridge two seemingly disparate worlds. We agreed that ’democracy’ was more than a system of government and that ‘spirituality’ was more than an expression of religious beliefs but we were still very shy and overwhelmed by the extraordinary shift that might happen when these two words came together and were embodied. All we could do was to collect quotations from a range of sacred and secular perspectives and allow people to make inferences of connection for themselves. Neither my friend, spiritual democracy, nor I felt ready to step out in public and explain ourselves.


But now in March 2009, something big is happening.  The USA has taken a leap forward. The economic crisis and upheaval is bearing down, a political force of goodness exemplified by President Obama as president is unleashed, and citizens in huge numbers are organizing themselves for positive social change. With this kind of excitement beckoning, spiritual democracy and I are venturing out.


We’ve been getting to know each other by asking questions and having awkward conversations.


S: “So, tell me more about yourself, spiritual democracy?  I’m drawn to you like a magnet, but I don’t really understand you and what you offer that’s special.”


SD: “There is much to explain but let’s just start here: The word, ‘spiritual’, used to be understood primarily in relationship with religious beliefs and practices. People who practiced their religions were considered ’spiritual.’  – As time went on ‘spiritual’ expanded in meaning to refer to a personal relationship with a higher power. This higher power was called by many names and pointed to something more – something greater than humankind.  During this time individual and personal spiritual beliefs and practices were nurtured.  The word ‘spiritual’ broke away from a strictly religious context and entered into the private domain of individual people. The phrase, “I’m spiritual but not religious” emerged. As the 21st century approached, spiritual expressions and interests flourished in the secular domain. Books like, The Soul of of Money, Sacred America, Spirituality and Politics hit the market. Topics like spirituality in the workplace, spiritual citizenship, and spiritual education gained attention.  Now the word ‘spiritual’ can be placed in front of the word ‘democracy’ without causing too much of a ruckus and people seem open to the idea, but the depth of my meaning is still to be discovered. Like other new ideas, words of explanation may lag behind the experience.


S: How can we begin to penetrate your meaning?  


SD: Well, we may have to play with several ideas and definitions for awhile. You and I and most everyone else are working this out together. Let’s start with these ideas:


I, spiritual democracy, am the process of life embodied by people day by day to make a better world. As people do this their essential unity – sense of oneness - is awakened.


I am people acting from their truest or highest nature for the benefit of all life.


I am the invitation wherein every person is called out to act for the common good.


I am, in fact, a divine flow of energy that courses within the soul of every person. As they open to their unique soul power and act out the unique purpose of their lives, they participate in and create spiritual democracy. 


I am a lively context that encourages participation for the common good. Not a noble idea that sits on a pedestal.


SM: I have an idea to help us make meaning for ourselves. Let’s ask the readers of this blog to answer a few questions and see where the conversation leads…


1. What experiences, events, signs, actions in the last 50 years point to an emergence of spiritual democracy? What signs of support for its emergence do you see in the world now?



2. Pretend its 2099 and the Planet earth in known throughout the cosmos as a beacon of spiritual democracy in action. What do you see? What is happening? How are needs met? What is governance like? What are popular livelihoods? Picture yourself there, what are you doing?



S: Please join in and offer your responses to these questions. Thanks!

SD: Yes, thank you!





Sally Mahé’s Community Blog

Dear friends,

I wanted to lead off this blog with a value I care most about – that we, ordinary people have it in us to change the world for the better. Not only in the USA but throughout the world people are saying, yes, I’ll step up and lend a hand. I see a need and will reach out to meet it. I’ll help create a common good for all. Recent experience with Barack Obama’s, “Yes We Can” campaign, seeing millions of people who flocked to Chicago on November 5 and even more millions of people who braved the freezing cold in Washington DC on January 21 to celebrate President’s Obama’s Inauguration, signal that indeed, we the people, are eager.

Look around and find these folks yourself. Citizens in Sarasota, Florida petitioned the mayor to proclaim an Interfaith Peace Day for their city; folks in Henderson County, North Carolina established a Peace Academy to teach townspeople how to deal with difference constructively; tough young men from West Bengal India were inspired to give blood to their local hospital and received acknowledgment as honored men; thousands of ordinary citizens in Brazil successfully pressured their government for a reduction in arms sales. The list is endless…

Paul Hawken in his book, Blessed Unrest, estimates over 1 million non-profit organizations are now focused on creating a more just and healthy planet. Imagine the number of individuals and groups involved in these pursuits today.  It’s not new that ordinary people, citizens of every country, are initiating changes. What is new is that they are beginning to understand their collective power and enjoy their growing competence to use this power effectively both individually and together.

In his book, The People, Yes! Carl Sandburg hinted at this emerging wisdom many years ago:

“The people,” said a farmer’s wife in a Minnesota country store while her husband was buying a post hole digger, “The people”, she went on, “will stick around and last along time. The people run the works, only they don’t know it yet – you wait and see.”

If you are one of these folks, please comment and share your ideas and actions. This site is about learning and sharing how people everywhere are doing democracy day by day, not just having it!

In peace,

Sally Mahé


Sally Mahé

Below is a short video about a wonderful organization that I work with. It is called URI – United Religions Initiative. Enjoy the video. To learn more, please go to