Sunday, April 23, 2006


Do we ever consider thinking outside the box, far enough outside the box, to question something that for all intents and purposes seems to have a positive thrust on the moral good, equality, and equity of society? For example, ‘democracy’. Like a mother’s unconditional love, it is such a grand and wonderful thing. Why think outside the box about a thing that is so great and good?

Democracy is just too good to question, to contemplate, to ponder. So far removed from the brutal force of a dictatorship, that it seems ridiculous to even discuss the two opposing values on the same page. But I’m going to do just that. Starting with dictatorships.

So first of all, I want you to ignore all the distress you feel about people ruled by the brute force of a dictatorship and think for just a moment how efficient a dictatorship is for the dictator. Dictators don’t have to campaign to harness the spirit of a people. They simply destroy it. There will be no opposition here. No one stirring up trouble. No one protesting, questioning, creating discontent. From a leader’s point of view, it is an easy authority.

Democracy is not like that. There are always bubbles on the surface. Always someone wanting more respect, more rights, more transparency, more honesty, more money, more land, or more representation. Always someone protesting, questioning, demanding, soliciting. It is not an easy authority. Within the freedoms of democracy, democratic leaders are busy, busy, busy. Brush fires are ignited faster than they can put them out. While one problem is being resolved, twenty more are bubbling up nearby. Democratic rule is hard work for the ruler. But for as relaxed as our democratic leaders are, as often as they are out on holiday, as well-rested as they look, as much as they ignore demands for transparency, and side-step the truth, I am getting just a mite suspicious about what is going on here.

It seems to me our democratic leaders have come to the realization that if they ignore the fires, fence out the protesters, sideline health care and education concerns, and dodge and disregard all the outcries and complaints for clarity and explanation and just forge ahead with eyes shut and ears blocked, doing their own thing in their own way in their own time, eventually citizens sink into a sea of apathy. And like a dictatorship, the spirits of the people are destroyed. They hate what is happening but their passions are too withered to write letters of protest. They no longer want to be involved, they no longer are hopeful that anything can or will change. And now you see what we have? A democracy that is as easy an authority as a dictatorship.

And so now I come to the point where I am thinking so far outside the box, that things are becoming totally weird. As weird as someone dedicating time and effort to generically creating a dirty diaper or a rotten egg.

Is it possible that democratic leaders willfully seek to create a citizen-conscience as malleable as those under dictatorial rule? A plastic-minded public that are easily bent? That have lost the will to fight and protest that which they abhor. A public that will choke down whatever comes their way without complaint and the same resignation as those people governed by a dictator?

When democratic leaders exaggerate their power and authority to a brutal level but insidiously practice it in a quiet civilized way, what have we got? A thing that quietly walks like democracy, quietly talks like democracy, subtlety smells like democracy, has the likeness of a democracy, but is it democracy?

So while shaking my head in utter dismay, my real question is, “Is it possible that a democratic leader could be so warped, perverted, and devious that they would willfully craft a climate of apathy and indifference to make their job easier? Do you think this crazy notion could be so?

P.S. I think embedded in this crazy rant is something that begins to explain why the war in Iraq just goes on and on, but that is a whole other blog too complex for me to tackle.


Blogger Me said...

Well, Democracy in it's very essence is a fragile thing. It is not composed of just a leader. Participation, responsibility, opportunity, deliberation, finding common ground.... these are all elements that make a democracy work and thrive at the grassroots level. ( I used to teach this unit to my 8th graders). I don't think most leaders try to deny the public, but I would think they do get to the point where they feel they just need to set the goals before them and stick to the course, because it is impossible to please everyone! We also have a large portion of our population that is by and large (realistically speaking) ignorant of the entire process, I'm sad to say, so that emotions reign instead of discourse. I'm sure it's a catch 22.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

me, you make a good point. I guess I need to contemplate more the delicacies or indelicacies of balancing participation of the public and authority of the leader to make democracy work. I recognize that as a woman I am an emotionally-prioritized individual. But even when I cast my emotions aside, I still feel totally short-changed in the process of so-called democracy as I watch the news each day. I guess that's part of that 'catch 22' you referred to.

11:40 AM  

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