May 17, 2012

Ideologies please – only that can hold our parties upright

During my recent visit home just this month, I was deeply saddened to witness another high profile party cross over that cannot but add fuel to the fire of inter-party haggling, and contribute to the growing cynicism about the usefulness of the party process in our local democracy.

To be fair to its constituencies in Maldives, our parties need ideology and not just strong personalities to be the face of these. This fact cannot be overemphasized. Lasting or sustaining movements of human endeavor is viable not because of the power of its founders but for its inherent ideals that underlie the movement that move our hearts and minds. Frail Florence Nightingale initiated a movement that had meaning to us about caring for the sick which continues to today as the nursing profession; MK Gandhi moved millions of hearts not through muscle but by mind to lay the foundation to today’s non-violent political movement; or our wonderful religion of Islam, not by physical or positional power of the Warner, but through the humility of his soul and immaculate example. In contrast, the use of positional power of physical force has never sustained a movement. History is rife with such episodes.

To nurture a humane society (which I believe each one of us dearly hopes for – if not overtly, even secretly) human beings must live by morals and values -- and this is found in ideologies; ideas and ideals that have meaning to our sense of humanity. Even the fact that we call ourselves societies, raise the categorical need for common ideals and common goals. A plethora of means to reach these ideals is justified as long as we maintain peace and harmony in our societies. No one would dispute this, but how often do we see our egos get in the way and “spoil the party”. Indeed, the salvage is found in ideology -- the principles by which we set our directions. People come and people go, but sensible ideologies often go on forever. Selecting ideologies that signal such timelessness in its essence will prove the best for sustaining our movements. I believe this type of engagement requires deep thinking and the deep conviction that such movements are to be established for the wellbeing of whole societies, not just individuals.

Unfortunately, in these times of material gain and overt leanings towards avarice and greed, these ideals become merely the secondary reasons or even the tertiary ones for a political party’s being rather than the primary one. Strong personalities driven agendas will most often be of this type; but its common knowledge that when the leader goes, the party also flounders. Just look at our parties in our country? Even in this short period in the political life of Maldives, how may parties have come and gone or have been transformed. A dress tailored with good fabric and strong yarn will not fray that soon. Something must be amiss with the foundation and the process. And there can be no doubt that this has to do with our lack of enunciated principles that our parities so sadly lack. It is these well detailed tenets that will provide the tangible hand-holds for those who follow in party allegiance to know if the ship they are on is indeed on track, or mired in the corals. When these ideals are deeply etched in our minds, we will then not be so easily sidelined by wayward pleadings of our ego to do the shameful things we see happening amidst our inter-party dynamics. Allusions to nefarious happenings in the political spheres of other countries should not be the excuse we utter in our response to warding off criticisms. We as Maldivians need to give the truth of democracy a chance and not snuff it in its infancy. Democracy should not be just a word on our lips, but an ideal in our minds --something that must move our hearts and souls towards being better human beings and a loving and caring society.

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