April 25, 2012

With great power comes great responsibility

If we ask what the word freedom meant, most Maldivians would say it’s about being free from the rules that bound us, or being free to say what we please or do what we want. Rightly so, that is what freedom is about -- to be free from a constraint that was or that could be. However, in our new and fledgling democracy, it is imperative that we try to understand the concept behind the word and internalize the values inherent in the practice of democracy. Otherwise, the chaos in our minds and on our streets is what we will get, and we can only hope to practice a farce of the choice we have in democracy and demonstrate only the madness in the method.

So, with democracy on everyone’s lips, this moment must not be seen however as mere lip service, but one to seize with rapture for reaping the benefits democracy provides. While the taste of freedom in democracy maybe exhilarating, its good practice does come with a price tag called responsibility – the more power, the greater the responsibility. In fact, there cannot be freedom without responsibility – a necessary complement to each other. Responsibility is what keeps individual freedom from being abused. We will recall how when we didn’t have this freedom, we were physically, mentally and behaviorally insulted. Now that we have the freedom we had wished for and struggled for, should we not respect this other necessary complement of democracy called social responsibility? No question, the diverse views that populate our landscape of democracy are what make it so vibrant, yet these are also the very entities that precipitate disputes of various kinds and make getting to consensus so difficult. Nevertheless, we cannot squash this vibrancy and hope to have a thriving and viable democracy. We must learn to handle the diversity of view points in civilized discussion, without going to war each time. When dialogue or discussion degrades into assertiveness, aggression and violence, then we are proving to ourselves and to others the immaturity of our sensibilities. Such stubborn selfishness indicates a regrettable weakness in ourselves to keep the fabric of our democracy from tearing and exposing the splits for exploitation by nefarious elements, from within or from without. We need forums for discussing our issues in a multi-partisan manner.

Every issue has a solution to be found if we would care to take the time and the commitment to do so. Lasting solutions can only come this way – when national issues are best dealt with by us nationals with a sense of responsibility and a dose of nationalism that now, unfortunately, seems to be eroding as greed and selfishness swells.


Saeed said...

As Maldivian head into a crucial election year 2013, pundits are coloring everything in yellow, purple and blue.This is the type of freedom in our mind!

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Thanks Saeed, but don't all colors finally converge into white. When I was a child I had a top (bumaru) that had all the rainbow colors painted on its disc and to my fascination, when it was turned hard enough, all those colors merged into white. I guess we need to find that commonality that transcends our divisions and then celebrate that.