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Principle 2: All people are equal
In a democracy it does not matter if you are different than other people. You are still equal to others. Maybe you were born with a disability and have to use a wheelchair. Maybe you were born an African American and have dark skin. See the Native American. Some people may make fun of him because he has a different religion than they do. In a democracy we do not say, “He is not equal because he has dark skin.” We do not say, “She is not equal because she is in a wheelchair.” The sun shines on all people. It does not care if they are different in some way. In a democracy you are equal even if you are different in some way. No matter what your religion is, how much money you have, what your skin color is, if you are a man or a woman or if you have a disability—you are still equal to the others! In a democracy everyone is equal. If you are a person, you are equal to every other person!
And sure enough, no questions were asked because no one was there at all! The place looked deserted. And, before they knew it, they were alone on shore and the captain, ship, and crew were gone. It was good to be out of that smelly cargo hold, but now, standing here alone, it felt scary.
“Look Nadesh,” exclaimed Petra, “there is a big house over there, and smoke is coming out of the chimney. Maybe they are cooking breakfast.” They were both hungry. But would the people in the house think it strange that two children showed up at daybreak asking for food. Besides that, their clothes were torn and dirty. They looked a mess. No doubt people would make fun of them. If they had not been so hungry, they would not have taken the risk.
“They’ll probably think they are better than us!” said Nadesh. But, they walked toward the house. As they got closer, they could smell food cooking. Someone was going to be having breakfast, but would they get any?
And then they were at the front door. They knocked. Right away the door was opened by a large
woman with dark skin and jewelry all over her! They could have just stared at this strange looking woman, but there was no time. She motioned them to come right on in. She stood back a minute and took a good look at them.
“The kitchen is this way,” she ordered, “follow me!”
There were all kinds of people in the kitchen! There were big ones, little ones, fat ones, and skinny ones. They were just sitting there as if they didn’t know they were the oddest assortment of people on the face of the earth. They were all eating. It was as if Nadesh and Petra had stumbled upon a circus at mealtime! But, the dark-skinned lady with all the jewelry acted kindly. She kept urging everyone to have more of this and more of that. She seemed intent on making sure each one had plenty to eat.
By now Petra and Nadesh had plates in their hands too and were enjoying eating.
These folks really knew how to cook! Then the jewelry lady rapped her knuckles loudly on the table. Most everyone stopped eating or talking and looked in her direction.
“Ok, you know how it is around here. Nobody gets a free ride. And nobody bosses anybody around. I own the place and you are welcome to sleep here and eat here as long as you do your part and don’t make trouble.” She continued on, “We have two new people here and, of course, they will help with the work just like everyone else—that is, if they are staying.” She turned quickly to them. “You got anyplace to go? Do you want to stay here?” Nadesh and Petra were caught off guard. They stood speechless as if the cat had gotten their tongues. All they could do was stare; first at each other, then at her.
“Ok, they are staying,” announced the lady. “Everyone works here, so I want some of you to show these two chores they can do.” She turned to Nadesh and Petra again. “I’ll be gone for awhile but don’t worry, my friends here will treat you well. I’m going to the shop in the village—do you need anything?” They stayed silent. The lady left.
Soon they were doing chores just like the others. There were floors to be cleaned, dishes to be washed, trash to be burned and beds to be made. No one was excused from the work. Nadesh remembered again that the captain had said Big Tree Land was a democracy. Maybe this house was like a little democracy inside the larger democracy of Big Tree Land. “Yes,” he thought to himself, “I bet that in a democracy everyone is equal—that is how it here. They didn’t make fun of us, and they are treating us just as they treat each other and nobody gets out of the work” There seemed to be no slaves and no masters here—all seemed equal.
The work continued on all morning. To be continued....
Activity: Hold a discussion. Start with this question. “What person should have the most
power in the world?” Children may suggest famous people. They may suggest educated people or others who they think will help the world the most. Or, they may suggest people with a lot of money or social power. Write the names on the board. Important: Teacher; add the name of an “ordinary” person you know. List for each one the reasons given for why the person should be “more than equal”. You can say, “Oh, does that mean a rich person should be more equal than a scientist?” Then you as teacher can say, “I want to hear what every one has to say, not just the scientists.” And, “Does that mean a professional person should be more equal than a non-professional?” Teacher might say, “What is it that really makes a person equal to another in a democracy?” Teacher might say, “Maria got an A on her last test. Shall we make her more equal than the rest of you?” Keep the discussion going until it becomes obvious that no trait makes one more equal than another. Not education, money, body shape, gender, color, etc. It is merely being a human being that makes us all equal in a democracy. You might close with, “Remember, the sun shines on us all! Everyone has an equal chance to get sunshine.”
Additional activity: Cut up a “pie” (made from paper or anything else) in obviously unequal pieces. Cut another “pie” in equal pieces. Ask the class to pretend the pie is real. Yum, yum, tastes delicious! Now, ask which one to serve to them—equal or unequal? Lead them to see that the only fair way is to let each student have a piece from the “equal” pie.