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Thanksgiving is not about turkey and football. For thoughtful and caring people, it goes much further, and is tied to the American ideal of democracy.

In 1896, Abraham Lincoln made the Thanksgiving proclamation to a weary country, divided by civil war, with the fate of the democracy in peril. Many believe that the purpose of the Mayflower Compact was to protect the liberty of dissenters from the tyranny of those in power. These and many other points in history remind us why Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to reflect on democracy. One recent attempt to reset our system to the ideal was the Occupy Movement. It has been described as:

[A]n international progressive, socio-political movement against social and economic inequality and the lack of real democracy around the world. It aimed primarily to advance social and economic justice and new forms of democracy. The movement had many different scopes; local groups often had different focuses, but among the movement’s prime concerns were how large corporations (and the global financial system) control the world in a way that disproportionately benefited a minority, undermined democracy, and was unstable.

The movement has been criticized for lack of a centralizing vision, and specific demands for changes in policy. Could it have taken a longer-term view of change, one related to family planning?

Democracy relies on a fundamental premise: That societies form, and remain legitimate, through the consensual coming together of free and equal people. The reason is simple. How else would you justify the authority of the state, and government?

Here’s the thing. For many centuries that premise was thought to apply to the people alive at the time, adults who could choose – as free and equals – to enter and leave societies and nations as they pleased. But that static view of freedom and equality is riddled with problems. The idea of “coming together as free and equals” works much better if we think of it in terms of planning for future generations, and what it would mean if we apply it to them. Thanks to modern contraception, reduced infant mortality, the (too slow) recession of religious and other forms of oppressive patriarchal families, and about a dozen other things, we can now do that. We can make democracy inter-generational, and realize it in ways it’s not easy to imagine in today’s world, where democracy is virtually meaningless.

The child-first Fair Start family planning model does just that.

It’s simple: Parents plan a fair start in life for their kids. Communities, in exchange, help fund that start – proportional to need. Parents and communities both promote an ethic of smaller families to make the whole thing work, and to free us from crowded societies where the average person’s voice is lost in the crowd and does not matter, where people live in fear of one another, where they are not raised to run their own democracies, and where the freedom and security of nature is disappearing every day, etc.

Occupy started something. Fair Start family planning can finish it. Learn more, and join us.

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