Frye on Democracy 7

From “The Critical Discipline”:

[T]he democracies seem to be forgetting their revolutionary traditions, and their will to face the future seems to be sapped by a morbid fear of losing what they now have. But both religion and democracy teach us that ordinary society is highly expendable. Christianity insists that man’s ordinary actions are worth very little in the sight of God. Democracy was not founded on a maudlin enthusiasm for the common man, but on inference from original sin: that men are not fit to be trusted with too much power. Our students have been conditioned to regard such doctrines as depressing, although they were part of the vision of life that inspired Milton and Lincoln. Without the sense of expanding possibilities that such a vision brings, it is hard to see how the democracies can mentally adapt even to the social changes that will be forced on them, much less develop the creative energy to make their own. (CW 7, 114-15)

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