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How to Build Democracy — in an Authoritarian Country

It's a question I often encounter: "Why did you move to Denmark?" A recent TED talk, by Eva Tessza Udvarhelyi, sheds light on this choice.


I am immensely proud of Tessza (a long-time coaching client) for being invited to the New York TED Democracy stage, where she not only represented many Hungarians but also echoed the voices of many from countries witnessing the gradual erosion of democracy, human rights, and freedom.


Her poignant message resonates with me deeply: "Democracy is not a noun; it's a verb." It demands our participation and effort.


Reflecting on this, I can't help but think about how societies, both ancient and modern, have repeatedly overlooked the lessons of history. From the roots of democracy in ancient Greece, there has been little advancement in our understanding and practice of good societies. When blessed with a thriving democratic state, comfort often sets in. We begin to see democracy as a permanent fixture, forgetting the vigilance and effort required to sustain it. This oversight is even more profound in subsequent generations who have never experienced anything else.


True democracy is a rare and delicate achievement. It's a responsibility that we must nurture and protect, ensuring its longevity.


As someone who has lived through Soviet occupation, the fall of a communist regime, witnessing the birth of democracy and then seeing it crumble over the past 13 years has been a heart-wrenching journey. Listening to Tessza's TED talk made me relive those years, bringing tears to my eyes. She's a firm believer in the power of change and refuses to accept defeat. We desperately need more people like her – individuals who embody resilience and hope. I sincerely hope this video inspires each of you as much as it inspired me.




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