Democracy Requires Mature People or Members to Succeed

Democracy, the banner of modernity, seem like the solution for everything in our life.  In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights0, it is stated as one of the intended goal of human rights.

Article 29.

  • (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

  • (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

While it has been the better choice compared to other forms of governance1 such as Monarchy { Government by a single ruler (king/queen, emperor) }, Aristocracy { Government by noblemen (hereditary) }, Oligarchy { Government by few persons}, Theocracy { “Government by God” (in reality this means government by religious leaders) } or Dictatorship { Government by people, that have seized power by force (often: military dictatorship) }, it may not always be suitable or at least not produce what most people may consider ‘good’ results.  Take note that I am considering democracy at various levels of organisations and not just on a national or political level.  You will see in the next few paragraphs, how democracy at its core, requires the people or members of an organisation or relationship to be matured.

Take a country for example.  If the people are immature, they would choose whoever throws them a freebie or says pleasing things, only to bring harm to the country and its people in the long term.  If
the people are mature, they would choose whoever can make tough choices, even unpleasant ones, if that is what it takes to protect the long term interest of the nation and its people.  Granted, there are leaders who make unpleasant decisions that also harm in the long term, the people in its maturity, should hopefully have corresponding wisdom to tell the difference.

In an organisation, if immaturity is the predominant trait, leaders and potential leaders would be tempted to play to the sentiments of its members, and sway them in order to win a short term victory.  This is sometimes the hard decisions that even good leaders have to make.  The difference between them and the bad ones, is that the former would try to grow the members in maturity while the latter would like to keep them in perpetual naiveté.  Why you ask?  Wrong question.

Moving along, we look at relationships, say parent-child relationships.  In the past 10 years, I’ve observed how families are becoming democratic as well!  I see some parents discussing everything from the type of food their child would like to eat, to the time to go to bed.  Topics open for voting includes but are not limited to whether the child wants to do their homework or not, to whether they should greet their grandparents, parents or anyone else.  The discussion was not between the parents, but between the parents *AND* the child.

Maybe it is wiser to let the child decide what they want to eat.  After all, we all know that children below the age of 19 know their nutritional needs very well and would not easily give in to the allure of junk food and candies even when tempted with democratic choice.  Surely, children all over the world are wiser than us to sleep early and wake up early.  They would not do harm to their fragile body by burning mid-night oil like we adults do!  Being discerning children, they would definitely choose wisely to allocate adequate hours of study and play in a balanced clockwork such that they will grow up to be all rounded, healthy physically, intelligent mentally and richly balanced emotionally.  Hurray to democracy!  And less you think I forgot about manners, you should not for one moment question the infinitely well mannered kids and youths of today, for it must be the misguided thoughts of a drunk to have thought the following:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”2 – Socrates3

Who is this Socrates to think so little of youths?  Surely it is the teachers and the school system that should change to fit the students!  In fact, let us get the students to decide the syllabus and curriculum.  How you ask?  By their grades of course, and their parents’ plea, naturally.  If a child cannot catch up, let us dumb down the syllabus so that he will not be left behind.  If a teacher reprimands a student, let the parents not weep in shame over the misconduct (of the child!) but stage a protest in the papers, the champion of human rights, free speech and democracy!   For how can such monstrosity be allowed in the hallowed grounds of education?

Perhaps, whilst we drink democracy and dine on human rights wantonly, we will have the last laugh over Socrates’ whimsical chatter as we congratulate each other in free speech.

Call me when the party is over.  Meanwhile, I’ll be meditating.

 

Reference

0 – http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

1 – http://www.democracy-building.info/definition-democracy.html

2 – http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/63219

3 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates

4 – http://www.stanford.edu/~ldiamond/iraq/WhaIsDemocracy012004.htm