Not Hiring a Hitman: How Our Stories Can Save Democracy

Chet Phillips (Lead Organizer – GVAT) with Worship Associate Samantha Magnus –

We live in a time when political polarization and personal isolation are increasing, and democracy itself is imperiled around the world.

It can be tempting to retreat into our most intimate circles of loved ones, those with whom we most agree, even as these circles get smaller and the lines around them turn into walls. Yet revitalizing our communities, our democracy, cannot be done at a distance. Nor can it be done through debating “the facts.”

Sharing our stories means being vulnerable enough to share both our own personal pain and concern and to seek out how our stories connect with those of others, even the stories that seem to challenge our own. Pluralistic democracy depends on respect for our differences, yes, but also on our working constantly to invite others to join in the telling of a common story.

Chet Phillips arrived in Canada after 22 years in southern Arizona where his work ranged over fields as varied as sustainable agriculture, creative writing, collaborative land management and conservation planning and the social science of conflict resolution. Chet joined GVAT this past July as the full-time lead organizer and now resides in Victoria with his partner, Jen, and their three young children.

In all his work, he is guided by a saying from one of his mentors: “An individual can resist injustice, but it takes a community to do justice”.

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