Not that many days ago, the nation experienced perhaps the most extraordinary presidential election in its history. The American public won praise for patience, common sense, and calm amid the tumult.

Yet many people are still unsettled. Some may feel fairness, and maybe democracy itself, were somehow out of reach. But, at heart, democracy - the whole notion of self-government - isn't something outside of us; it is us.

On this eve of a new year, as the post-election rhythm sets in, we offer a few thoughts from people who had no knowledge of the recent extraordinary events, but whose words are highly relevant:

*"Democracy means not 'I am as good as you are,' but 'You are as good as I am.' " - Theodore Parker, clergyman and social reformer

*"Democracy is essentially anti-authoritarian - that is, it not only demands the right but imposes the responsibility of thinking for ourselves." - Bergen Evans, lexicographer

*"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr, theologian

*"At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper...." - Winston Churchill

*"A republic properly understood is a sovereignty of justice, in contradistinction to a sovereignty of will." - Thomas Paine

The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, also wrote on the subject: "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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