Monday, May 28, 2012

Democracy: A Rant By Chance

I was just outside having a cigarette when inspiration struck and now I have to share it. It’s about the world; well I guess it’s more about Canada; even more so about Democracy. In Canada, unlike a fair amount of other places in the world, we live in a democracy. We have the luxury of voting for the government officials who are meant to represent us and work towards our best interests. I know that these days this is no longer the case; well, the illusion of it still exists anyway. The representatives of the people have transformed into some obscene beast we call politicians. Gone are the days when our elected officials were actually representatives. It used to be that the government was an agent of the people; somewhere along the way, we got lost and the roles were reversed. Today, our government tells the people what to do and no longer abides by the desires of the people. Who is to blame? The rich old white man’s club? How about Stephen Harper? Maybe the Conservative party in general? No, let’s blame those who are really at fault and I don’t mean the politicians, the bankers or the CEO’s. No, for a change let’s put the blame where it belongs: on us, the people. 

This is where my inspiration came into play; an epiphany struck me. In the last federal election there was a less than 50% voter turnout. That equates to 10-12 million Canadians, many not much unlike myself, who didn’t bother to vote. Here in Halifax in the last Municipal election that voter turnout percentage was even lower. Why? Apathy. No one cares because no one has reminded anyone that they do hold power. Well, I want to remind you that you do, you do have some power. We still live in a democracy and believe me, like you I am fully aware of how flawed it has become but right now we still have an opportunity to fix it and then improve on it. I’ve been involved with social activism for eight months now and in that time I have seen many governments at all levels pass laws and bills faster than one can blink an eye. Not a single thing has changed with my social activism; at least not my approach. So this is my new one. Use the system to get back what belongs to us all: our Country and our freedom. If you want to see change then you need to take responsibility. Tired of seeing rich old men with personal agendas elected to office? Get off your ass and go vote for someone else. These politicians get elected by narrow victories and sometimes uncontested. How many of that 50% of apathetic voters do you think it would take to overthrow these career politicians? I tell you not much. Look around at the world you live in; look around your town, city, province and country. Do you like what you see? Is this the great country of Canada you were told about? Is this the Maritime pride we claim to all possess? No. It isn’t. Nobody ruined anything; we allowed ruin to happen but we can fix it. 

We can take back control and we can decide. Don’t like anyone running in your riding for whatever level election? Do it yourself. It’s a ton of work, a lot of dedication, plenty of frustration and endless amounts of stress but that’s what it means to truly serve your community, city, province, state or country; because that’s what being a representative of the people is: a service; a duty; a responsibility. It isn’t a job or a career. So I’m taking the time to remind you; to remind you that it isn’t too late. All it requires is that you remember. Remember that you are a person; remember that you have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; remember that others have this same right; remember that you live in a democracy, broken as it may be, and that means you have a voice; remember that your vote can count but it’s going to take more than just one. We can change the government; we can replace them all; we can demand it and we can do it. There are 33 million citizens in Canada, surely among them must be those with impeccable character who can lead the people safely and in good conscience? Women and men who are able to lead but do so because it is necessary and not for celebrity status as is now the case. Find them; encourage them; help them. Come together in your communities and volunteer together. Find your own candidates and participate in democracy. Why? Because right now it is your only option. 

When protest and demonstration; freedom of expression; freedom of association; freedom of speech; personal privacy are all outlawed by our governments at the drop of a hat, it can only get worse. Young and old, female and male, you are the last hope; the only hope. If you crave change then you must act. You can no longer afford to be apathetic as it is quickly leading to your permanent imprisonment. I cannot express to you the urgency and importance of finding that memory of power; that faint, glimmering knowledge that you are not a slave; not a resource; not a number but that you are a human being damnit. Like I said, democracy is broken but not beyond repair. Capitalism is killing the planet and killing us. A new alternative must be found but it will never, ever be found so long as things continue in this direction. We are all going to die and I’m not speaking metaphysically. Any idealism that is based on infinite consumption of a finite resource is destined for extinction. We are most probably the only living beings in the entire Universe (that we are aware of) that are knowingly working towards our own extinction. We’re committing the largest act of suicide ever dreamed of and not only that, but we don’t seem to care enough to do anything about it. 

I understand whatever excuse or rationalization you can come up with for surely over the last 13 years or more I have used them all. No more. What has my inaction given me? Everything I put into it: nothing; in fact I’ve even lost as a result. But make no mistake, I’m as guilty as the next apathetic voter because that is the world that we’ve permitted to be created around us but it doesn’t have to be this way. Look around you. Just look. Is this really the best you think that humanity as a species can do? With all of our knowledge, scientific and spiritual, can you honestly say that this is it? I call shenanigans because that’s what it is. There is so much more to be accomplished yet we don’t because the governments we watch apathetically get elected (if you can even call them elections anymore) don’t represent our views; our desires; our needs; our wants. They represent a very, very, very small minority. You cannot blame corporate greed or the lobbyists who work for them either. Our inaction has led to the environment in which these things are acceptable. Whoever has the most money makes the rules; it’s a simple setup that’s been created. 

Again, it doesn’t have to be this way. Use the system they have warped and polluted against them. Find individuals who would not ordinarily find themselves in a position, nor necessarily inclined to run for representation. Individuals who have an investment in local community and national growth; people who see the long and the short term; those who have little interest in making money and a great interest in creating a sustainable, eco-friendly, equitable place for people to exist in harmony; free from worry; free from strife; free to pursue their own happiness’s in this life. And this life is short, my own perhaps nearing the half way mark in a few short years and I have waited far too long to live. Now that I have learned how to live, I find that the world in which I exist doesn’t want me to be alive, it wants me dead. It wants you dead. So I implore of you; I beg of you; for the sake of tomorrow and the future of tomorrow’s generations, find your voice; find your power; find yourself. 

Democracy can work; it can work to get those who would see us work to our own deaths for the benefit of themselves out of positions of power but you, me and everyone else must find the hope to try; at least one more time. Don’t give up yet. Come together, away from technologies, in halls, parks, churches or gyms, anywhere and talk, discuss, debate. In other countries, thousands of rebels fight and die to overthrow their tyrannical, uncontrolled government. Our one last and fading luxury is that we can still peacefully overthrow our uncontrolled, tyrannical government. Do not make the mistake of thinking things will get better because they have to; they won’t. Get informed; see past what the television, the newspaper and the internet is telling you. Question everything and always seek the truth. Do your best to piece it together for truly, the truth is never found in one story. Reclaim your right; reclaim what it means to be a citizen; reclaim your humanity. It isn’t perfect, but it is enough to get the ball rolling on something new. 

Remember that the role of a representative of the people is to represent the people who have elected them. When someone becomes a public representative of the people, elected by the people that make up that public, the personal opinions, ideologies and beliefs of that representative cease to matter; those of the public they represent take precedence; after all, the representative has put all that away and assumed the role of ‘the public’. At all times, regardless of personally held convictions, a representative must do that which they have been elected to do: represent as the people; be there for the citizens who have elected them so that they might be free to pursue happiness, safe in the knowledge they have a voice. Find those people; those who would sacrifice self-interest for altruism; give up their own pursuit of happiness, for a time, so that others, many others, may pursue their own; those who would recognize the supreme responsibility and humility of what it means to be chosen by the people, for the people.