- Politics and Social Issues
Democracy: Only on Paper
Beginning of Awakening
Some time after becoming fed up with a communist indoctrination, my early twenties found me as a legal immigrant on my way to the "free world of the West". What a relief, I thought, leaving behind all that mind-drilling which didn't allow calling a president an idiot---which must have been an important aspect of the freedom of speech.
Sinking relaxed into the uncomfortable seat of my trans-Atlantic plane I was letting my imagination picture a society where no one is imposing on an individual what to believe, what to live for, and what to die for. I pictured a happy democratic society with a minimum collectivism which brands and brainwashes individuals making them lose their personal identity.
How could I know in that dreamy moment that surviving a badmouthing of a president was symbolically just about the only difference between the regime which I was leaving so happily behind and the one which I was immigrating into.
Also, how could I know that it was not only a communist social arrangement that was breeding homeless people, brainwashed people, working-for-peanuts-people---well, people who didn't like their leaders, even if those leaders didn't get to enjoy a lifetime mandate as dictators.
Indeed, in those moments it would have been very hard for me to understand that people could get fed up with a leader within only 4 years, let alone hate him even before he had a chance to show what he was all about.
Well, there was enough time ahead of me to "know" something, and for that time being I was merely satisfied with my curiosity.
Little Things Telling a Story
Right from the start I got this strange taste in my mouth which couldn't be washed down with beer; and not even an occasional chaser of the Canadian rye would do. There were those little things which were responsible for that taste, and a few of them could be mentioned here.
Like, I could not understand then---and I still can't understand now after almost half a century spent here---why the hell that laughter of the studio audience after every line that was supposed to be funny in every single TV sitcom. I know, most of you folks got used to it just like you got used to those many commercials, but laughter got stuck in my mind as unforgivable idiocy.
Every time it's like a cue given to the viewers that it's "time to laugh NOW". And it's not a genuine one, but a copy of the same short sequence of group laughter inserted after each funny line. Well, that's a mini-form of brainwashing that even in communist dictatorship we didn't have.
I must say, I am so glad that at least during those TV dramas there are no flashing directives saying something like: "Time to be angry NOW...time to be curious NOW...time to be sad NOW..." I understand, you probably never even thought about it, but to my caliber of individualist who chooses over what is funny and what is not---it's so ridiculous to be "guided" into laughter.
Hmmm...what is the idea of democracy if even entertainment imposes norms of what is funny and what isn't. Who gets to decide, and is there a hidden agenda behind it; the one of conditioning the masses for collective responses, instead of encouraging the personal use of mind?
You see, there are those hidden little indicators of instilling a sheep mentality into the masses. My sensitive individualistic antennas could so easily detect them, since they were developed in that regime of social uniformity where individuals were only unimportant particles of an all-important mass.
It Is Not Really About People
While possibly facing certain risks of criticism here, I must say that there are still so many folks who are taking their democracy seriously. "Demos" is the Greek word meaning people, nation, and "...cracy" is a suffix meaning "rule"---so the whole word means "rule of the people".
Now, having that in mind, I can't but ask myself which part of "rule of the people" is allowing legislators to regularly tailor the laws catering to the interests of those richest and most influential in society? As it keeps happening over and over again ---if you can afford a bunch of expensive lawyers, you may get away with a murder.
What was the last time that people were asked for an opinion before a military action? Didn't we see some super-massive public outcry before the Vietnam war; and then the one before the Gulf war---a.k.a. Bush's war? So what was achieved by that "democratic display of the will of the people"?
Now, let's get to those double standards in taxation. How come that those rich folks have so many legal loopholes and breaks, while that poor devil working for peanuts gets his pay so painfully amputated that the word "democracy" starts sounding like a joke.
While we are at taxes, does anybody still fall for that crap about "proper use of taxpayers' money"? I mean, when government announces how they "saved some of taxpayers' money by doing this or that"---it doesn't mean at all that because of that you will be paying less taxes now. So, what difference does it make to you what they do with your buck---it's not yours anymore one way or another.
If you happened to come from a communist dictatorship, you might see so many aspects of democracy as a total familiar crap just wrapped up into a shiny, colored paper with words including "constitution"..."equal rights"...and "equal opportunities".
Especially that last one---equal opportunities---may sound so attractive and referring to great freedoms. But let me give you a simple comparison: at the lottery booth you can daily see something like "Next jackpot is $50 million". People buy, attracted to one silly logic: "Somebody will win, why not me?"
Likewise, only a relatively small number in any society has a natural aptitude and an ambition persistent enough to match it to add their story to those "rags-to-riches" statistics. But it sounds so great to have at least that freedom "guaranteed", doesn't it? We may never use that freedom, and a great majority of people don't; but they still like that illusion of something "given to them as a possibility".
Guaranteed Pie in the Sky
This matter of "equal opportunities" somewhat reminds me of those religious settings where trusting followers are guided into belief how their god loves them. Hungry for love they fall even for the sound of that statement, never asking themselves: "If god really loves us, why does he allow so much suffering?"
I mean, even a good-hearted neighbor will offer a helping hand at times of trouble, and he is only another imperfect human. So what happened with almighty god who should love you unconditionally---like you would love your child even if she came out physically or mentally unfit.
Really, what's god's excuse for forsaking his imperfect creations---with all his unlimited resources at his disposal?
Somewhat similar is the question about our almighty governments. If you are guaranteed your free pursuit of happiness (your place in the Kingdom of Heaven), it turns out to be YOUR fault if you don't make it to there (by either being unable, or by being a sinner).
Somehow, it is not your government's fault that there is all kinds of money available for all kinds of space and military programs, for bribes to countries with important strategic locations, for foreign aid, for wars, for highly paid political machinery---but not enough money to make the minimum wages higher and to make a decent and affordable medical coverage for everyone.
How dare you complain? It's your fault, the "opportunities are equal for everyone", so it's not your government's fault if you don't know how to make it in life. It's somewhat like a marital abuser saying to his beaten wife: "Don't blame me for smacking you, I gave you a chance to be a better woman".
Sometimes Help Is Impossible
The other day I had some business to attend to downtown so I took our subway service to avoid the problem of downtown parking. As I was taking the ride, a beggar approached to me, with his regular routine of extending one hand and making passes over his (hungry) stomach with another hand.
Not hesitating I gave him a few bucks. But, please note, I didn't invite him for a dinner, didn't offer him our spare room for his new home. I hope you know where I am heading with this, so I won't have to give you all kinds of excuses for limiting my willingness to be helpful.
Just like the next compassionate human, I feel sorry for all unfortunate people in the world, especially kids---but I just can't play a Mother Theresa to dedicate my life to such folks.
Likewise, I find it hard to believe that those democratic governments in Europe took upon themselves to impose all those migrants on their peoples---not really caring that they would cause some serious social problems. As always, I ask myself in such situations: "Is anybody asking people how they feel about being hosts to tens of thousands of people, some of them openly imposing their religion and being disrespectful to women?"
What ever happened with that old rule: "When in Rome, do as Romans do"? I saw on You tube a disgusting scene of a migrant washing his butt on the city fountain in the broad daylight. Then I saw a bunch of the young guys walking around in a German city, and when asked by a reporter "why they are not working" they laughed while one of them said: "We don't have to work, we are guests of Angela Merkel".
Now, it's none of my business really, but I just can't understand that people in Italy and elsewhere have to patrol their night streets to prevent vandalism and assaults on their women---while their democratic, not dictatorial governments seem to go highly tolerant about those forms of misbehaving, seemingly not caring about their own people.
Happiness Is Possible Despite Democracy
Well, here comes the end of my story. I don't think there has been one single thing said about democracy and its questionable practical applications that you don't already know---all except that little personal part at the beginning.
However, that personal part could easily be misunderstood, especially by those who are not familiar through my other articles with my being basically quite a happy camper. No matter what I may be observing from the corner of my eye about the anomalies of democracy, I honestly don't give a rat's behind about anybody agreeing to have their brains messed with and brainwashed.
I am not a normative dude telling anyone how they should see their democracy. I love my life in Canada---not necessarily giving so much credit to the social or political arrangement, but to my own ability to create my space in it and arrange it the way I choose it.
Having tasted both a communist dictatorship and democracy I don't really care about resemblances which simply cannot be erased as long as human beings are behind both of them. Just like I often talk about religious belief---it's not about the value of an ideology, but what people are making of it.
If, on the other hand I happened to be a normative dude, I would probably try to make a couple of suggestions to my readers. Let's see what they might look like:
----Get a life folks.
----Increase your capacity for enjoyment of life through a good nutrition, meditation, walks in the nature, well nurtured relationships, hobbies and interests.
----Don't neglect all that and then vent out your life frustrations and a victim-syndrome in a futile political involvement. You can't live the life of a nation, only your own. Don't see democracy as a gift from your government----no one can give you freedom if you are depriving it to yourself in your mind.
Well, all this would be said IF I happened to be a normative type of a person. But don't follow any of this---you may have done enough of "following". Use your own mind instead.