December 9, 2013

Bonded in democracy

Democracies in developing nations seem to keep up the vestiges of bondage in one way or the other. Take for example those who are dependent on public service jobs for their subsistence. Scores of people fit this category especially in smaller nations. When their position is under threat of loss, the mental agony of uncertainty can be excruciating. Where can they go to find the means to eat and look after their families? This stress is worse in those with increased family responsibilities or their age hiking beyond the middle age. Loss of a job means only the painful safety of a few month savings as bolster at best. Most times those who don't own their own abodes but are renters face the fear of loss of this security also. Thus out goes what holds our self-respect and human dignity. So what is the solution for this state of affairs?

Modern democracies seem the solution even as we continue to say that even with its faults, there is no better one for governance available.  Perhaps that is why we in Maldives also decided to opt for it. Yet, that element of domination we want dispelled from it seems still there for keeps.  We are provided the ‘shelter’ of parties or such loyalty just like in the past when there were godfathers in society who safeguarded our 'safety' for a price. New fabrications of democracy ensure only too well this safety by the purchase of our allegiance of obedience in so many ways. Yet in the fluid environment of political intrigue that lines the edifice of our democratic life, the anchor of such support is fleeting even though seemingly certain. Given the emotions of a moment -- today's supporter maybe tomorrow’s adversary. But the hapless member -follower needs this thread of a tether and lays his life and human dignity on this flimsy hope of gifts his subordination will bring. When this hope is shattered as is often, he moves to the shadows of others who will give him that momentary shelter of security he yearns, and this iteration of a charade proceeds in an unending cycle of political titillation. So goes the play of security and freedom in our minds in democracy.

This story is not unfamiliar to our fledgling democratic experience in Maldives either.  Our populace most of whom look to the public sector for employment and mental security are mired in this uncertainty. The inherent mercurial nature of politics cannot give sustainable succor to our insecure minds as long as the causes of our insecurity are not addressed. 

The solution has to be a turn for compassion in democracy. Fortunately, our smaller communities can exercise this attitude even though the larger ones may not be able to so quickly. In these early days of our democratic experience we should vigorously attempt to give the basics of security to our people such as secure housing, pension schemes and health care to still our anxiety of old age when we can work no more to earn, the relevant quality of education for our children or the access to loans to allay the remaining insecurities in our lives.  When compassion is exercised in the giving, responsibilities can also be evoked from the receiver much more easily. Short of this, our democracies can only be empty shells under which we live out our lives in the irony of bondage.

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