April 11, 2012

Sincere party affiliation or selfish opportunism

I wonder why in Maldives we hold so strong to our party affiliations? Is it because we harbor a steadfast association with our party philosophy? Is this party groundwork so strong such that in abandoning it, we abandon our moral standing? Which of our parties have such irrevocable ideologies that we, in our doggedness to protect our allegiance to it, become so unyieldingly partisan -- to the point of forfeiting the love of family, community and our cherished history of social cohesion? Clearly, there is no party asserting such strong characterizing ideologies, and thus it cannot be that which holds us so mesmerized. Or could it be a narcissistic matter of our ego that does not want to lose out on the image we seek to uphold at any cost – even at the cost of alienated family relationships? Or yet, is it the vestiges of subservient deference to authority nurtured of our imperial past which just doesn’t seem to wash away, and so our subconscious mind follows the hard-wiring that we have inherited from our past collective consciousness, and thus again subjecting us to what is called a blind following? Does any of the above seem the likely cause?

Yet another very plausible one remains, and this may not be far from the truth – that of party personalities being the major attractant rather than party ideologies, or any of the above; personalities who aspire to the leadership of the nation and our proximity to them being what brings us the strong promise of personal windfalls. Unfortunately, and sadly, this notion, as the prevailing edict in Maldivian’s party affiliation, is strengthened by the shameful public display of across party switchovers that many high profile political figures are constantly enacting in congruence with the changing political weather. Such betrayals do not set an example for party cohesion and the good practice of democracy in our nation, but only demonstrate the fickleness of the party model we practice.

So, if our model of democracy is about hero-worship, does this not also fall squarely in line with what our religion Islam so vehemently opposes. We, as good Muslims, are supposed to shun other deities, whether men or money, avoid willful divisions that breed social disruption and call for keeping away behaviors and thoughts that breed ill-will amongst whom we call our brothers and sisters in a nation of common faith. The proliferation of division and conflict we observe in Maldives from the moment what we call multi-party democracy took berth, has shown us nothing but family fractures and social breakdown. Some people may say it is just the teething problems of a fledgling democracy. But do we want to go through all this when we see even the so-called mature democracies of the world after years of practice, mired in strife and corruption-ridden multi-party quagmires. The skein of politics in a world of graft and greed that define this scheme of politics seems too entangled and complex. Why do we in Maldives, in a nation that is not beset with natural divisions of ethnicity, language or religion create these artificial divisions just because democracy is implemented that way elsewhere?

We have the power of individual will to make our own decisions of the structure of the democratic process we want to pursue. That is what democracy is about; to raise voice when action by parties or leadership goes against moral principles and demand social equity. Given this present dark period in our national life, isn’t it time to call for a rethink of an alternative to the party mechanism to implement our democracy? After all, the use of parties is only a tool for the process. There must be other methods and other tools to elect our leaders and exercise democracy! Can we search within our local sensibilities for a more appropriate and less disruptive method to do so that will keep the harmony of our local and religious beliefs intact? Why do we have to import a method just because that is the way it has been in larger multi-racial and multi-ethnic and multi-cultural democracies? We need to, after four agonizing years of social rift, and still sustaining, wake up to the foolishness that we have been perpetrating in the name of democracy. The farce of our parties is that these are built on following personalities and not philosophies. It is the trip of the ego that is driving us and dividing us rather than the voice of our authentic self that is always there to unite us. The Maldivian public needs to wake up from this dream of deception, and take up the wheel of reality.

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