Renewing Democracy

This compilation of articles are ones that I was compelled to write at the time albeit, I feel they are incomplete.  I have always believed that there were more to come, until now none so compelling have appeared – perhaps because there is more to learn.

Engaging Folk

Life’s Dance

Dancing, like governance, is natural to life.  Witness the birds as they fly engaging the wind, respecting the updrafts and downdrafts and appreciating their gift of flight.  Observe the fish as they swim the oceans and streams engaging the currents, respecting the natural flows and utilising fully their gift of swimming.  Witness wild animals in their habitat engaging the natural environment, monitoring the atmosphere for predators and employing all their faculties in survival.  Each species in tune with their abilities, aware of the environment and painfully appreciative of their vulnerability in life.  All are respective of a system as natural as life itself. 

Dancing is about rhythm, being in tune with oneself and others and emanates from engagement and involvement much the same as genuine governance.   One only has to look at modern dance to appreciate how isolated people have become.  Nowadays to dance means to gather individually into a group with no common steps and little contact or, otherwise as a twosome where people, in various forms of embrace (usually clutching or clinging) shuffle about to loud often inaudible music.  These forms of dancing appear to emulate systems of anarchy, or dependency and control.

Dance, of course, requires music and most modern music, as with many things in our lives, is artificially created.  This contributes to the dilemma of the continuing disconnectivity that people are experiencing between themselves and the environment in which they live.  Technology can be partly held responsible for this void, as, it supposedly perfects the imperfections of people by improving sound, clarity and amplification reducing our need to listen, hear and appreciate imperfection at all.   But, music is but an example of  this desire for artificiality which appears to be a very human trait – the desire to escape from effort, responsibility and involvement.

The human race has always appeared to be on a continuum of escape away from what’s natural into a created world of perfection that avoids the travails of life and provides only its pleasures. Maybe this apparent blemish can be attributed to our level of intellect which often overpowers our more spiritual natural selves.

In our society, both dance and governance appear void of any sense of mutual involvement much less engagement. The distance and the clinging are indicative of the extremes at play in society.  They are reflective of the lack of mutuality and indicative of  the neediness that people feel.  Current dancing is a symbolical illustration of the various government systems evident in the developed world.

There appears two types of government, those without any validity or those which appear more into control than participation.  Modern government has either chaotic multi party assemblages, unbalanced one party systems, or some form of dictatorship.  There appears little synchronisation with the real issues that people struggle with in their everyday lives and little attention to real democracy.

What is apparent historically, is that we continually create worlds that rapidly run out of control.   Today’s advanced world, despite our technological advances, has growing unmanageable economic disparities, drug resistant diseases, increasing despondent and violent people and social order in various forms of chaos.  Historically we can find many examples of other so called advanced eras which most often led to wars, famines, pestilence and plagues.  Most, it could be demonstrated, were caused by the arrogant nature of our human intellect.

As we in the western developed world rapidly approach a similar precipice, the need for re-balancing or re-tuning is obvious.  There is a real necessity to switch off the volume and listen to the real music of life that is in abundance all around us.  There is evident a natural music and melody of the spirit that penetrates even the loudest artificial noises.  Maybe, it is the misinterpretation of this noise, instead, of appreciation of the music of the spirit that leads to the brutality that we are witnessing all throughout the world.

On a visit to Cuba I had opportunity to witness people in tune with spirit  and cognisant of the realities of a government where idealism had given way to pragmatic intellect.  It was my first encounter, or perhaps, recognition of real soul, and experience with people in tune with real music and who exuded dance as part of their being.  Here I witnessed some of the most abject poverty that I had seen in all my travels amongst people who were perhaps as “educated” as any collective group in any developed country.  Yet, despite this poverty, legislative curtailment of freedom, and educational attainment there was evident an aliveness that I had never seen before.  It was evident in their melodious voices, in their swaying movements but, much more significantly, in themselves.  Whenever you caught their eye you immediately were embraced by a warmth, honesty and humanness that was uncanny.

You had no doubt that these people were in concert with themselves, their natural environment and were survivors.  Indeed, they had survived a leadership who attempted to save them from external influences which were felt to be destructive, while imposing a system much more restrictive than any that could be imagined.  A case, perhaps, of those who knew best, knowing little, or an example of how governments no matter how pure their intent, eventually becoming disconnected from their people and remote from real life and living.

Perhaps, the lack of understanding of real music and lack of  appreciation of real dance is at the root of much of our social despair and anguish. Was it not the collective cry of spirits that came through in the voluminous cries of anguish over the death of Princess Diana?  Is this not a similar melody of pain that we hear at each new individual and personal tragedy (a cry for someone to stop the noise and rediscover the music)?

Conceivably, this is fundamental to the roots of our growing fractionation of governments everywhere.  Possibly, people need to learn to appreciate the spirit more and the intellect less.  Maybe, people need to value real music, especially the music of life, and once again learn to dance, particularly, the dance of life .

Perhaps, more of our politicians need to be poets rather than legal experts –  is not poetry the music of the soul.  In reality, you cannot legislate morals any more than you can enforce humane conduct.  But, if people are in harmony there will be music instead of noise, laughter instead of despair and dancing instead of protest.


Captivating Spirit

Life’s music

The challenge of governance, like music, is to balance the discordant notes of the sounds to develop the necessary symmetry.  While governance is natural, democratic equality is an ideal.  Fundamental to both is the harmony which emanates from music.

Without music there is not even life, for in silence there is complete stillness.  It is in the quiet that life stirs, motion begins and resonance is created in the spirit.  It is this resonance that generates the music so fundamental to life itself.  Encapsulated in this music is the beat of the natural and melodious.

Their appears a lack of understanding of natural life and living, and indeed, the balance of nature, true harmony.  The increasing disconnectivity of people from themselves, their history and the natural world is the result of the increasing reliance on technology and its inherent need for centralisation.    The result is, that as the world becomes more urban and centralised, an appreciation of all that is natural becomes less.

Nowhere it appears is there a connectivity to the real wealth of natural resources or human values.  Little thought is given to the origins of the “marketplace” as a place to exchange, to share and to socialise.  And, of course, investment is about getting something back, not putting in for the benefit of the whole. The economy has become only capital, the marketplaces only vehicles of these capital flows and wealth only measured in return on investment.

The end game appears to be a desire to accrue as much of what is available as quickly as possible without any consideration of the implications for others, ethics or the damage to what’s natural.  People, the natural environment or society are unimportant, much less any sense of reverence or respect for something greater than us all.  One could conclude that the ego of the mind has eclipsed the rationale of the spirit.

The current style of government utilises a business approach to testing the “marketplace” through polling, focus groups and a whole array of technology driven analysis.  The discordant notes that are heard are therefore synthesised before they reach the people who are elected  to govern.  In actual fact, the responses are treated the same.  This continually massaging of the notes has developed a symphony out of touch with its music, a music that has little harmony and vibrations that continually aggravate.

Yet, governments forge on with policy designed to accommodate the more populous areas  and programs to redress the dilemmas of urban sprawl and expect these policies and programs to suit other and more rural environs.  This is a case of government responding to the noise while failing to listen to the music.   This noise is generated by an approach to governance that neglects a long term view in favour of a short term reactionary one.

Governments appear unable to hear anything but, the high pitched and artificial noise of  so called “representative” lobbies while, neglecting the increasingly agitated, yet softer tones, of the majority. They seem to forget that it was the music of those now not heard the young, the middle aged, the old, and those otherwise disadvantaged which created the society that now fewer and fewer can enjoy.  Was it not the sacrifices of the older for the younger that provided the impetus for much of the economic policies we now disdain?  Was not the care for the marginalised and disadvantaged at the root of the social charter (currently under destruction) of most democracies?  As we so willing discard this music of spirit for the noise of ego, have we given thought to the kind of society that might evolve?

These bands of “representative” elite’s grow in numbers, their noise increases in volume and their parades become more visible.  Those, whom aspire to lead, rush to the fore to take up their causes.  They appear unaware, perhaps uncaring, that the causes are rooted in ego and fear rather than firmly fixed in humility and harmony, the very basis of governance.

These elite minority groups, with the assistance of  current disconnected government approaches, have been able to amplify their noises.  The louder pitch has been used to influence government members and their policy, while convincing them that what they are hearing is the harmony of the masses. In the process, democracy has all but disappeared, real music considered artificial and the quiet has become a disturbing and feared place.

As historically, when such musical discord appeared about to overwhelm, the majority, who usually find solace in the quiet, have begun once again to stir, to relearn their songs, to develop their consonance and to form their symphonies.  Once again the sense of common folk is being appreciated and the non sense of elitism being given its rightful disdain.

A different tune is emerging, which like the music of life, began in the quiet, the refuge of the growing numbers who feel marginalised and disadvantaged.  It is gaining in crescendo as the tune becomes known and the chorus becomes louder.  It has been murmured in the recent mass rallies in the United States.  It was muted in Atlantic Canada, as rebellion appeared imminent in response to the depletion of the world’s richest fishery.  It was voiced in the protests in France against unemployment.  And, most recently, it was vocalised in the ring of fire and protest walk in Britain to warn against further depletion of farming and rural lifestyles.

Almost everywhere, one sees this tune emerging from the formerly quiet low keyed majorities of people, who had upon until now, given over their lyrics to governments, in order for them to create the music.  It appears, that as this new tune is becoming known, the chorus grows louder, as these same people realise how disconnected from themselves their governments have become.

These movements and stirrings allow light to shine on the very darkest corners of minds that have been enthralled by those performing their dances of fear and ego in the very shadows of the spirit.  This exposure to hope will encourage the essence of real leadership to emerge, bringing its humility of thought, rhythm of motion, and resonance of spirit.

Such leadership, in tune with its people, in harmony with a more natural approach to governance and a belief in the ideal of democratic equality will hear the music of the excluded, disadvantaged and marginalised.  Once heard, this music will move them to rebuild the balance and harmony of our economic, social and spiritual basis of living which have been the very foundations of hope, humanness and equality since time began.


Harmonising Ideals

Life’s symphony

A symphony comprises a large number of individual notes brought together in harmony to provide the pleasing sound of music. A symphony takes reflection, introspection and time.  It requires the softness of feelings, appreciation of harmony and tenacity of desire.  It calls for the appreciation of individual notes and necessitates the reshaping of the harsh and the blending of the soft.  For a symphony, is not just a compilation of such individual sounds but an harmonising of all their characteristics into mystical, magical and wonderful chords.  A symphony requires the understanding of the basis of music which is not so much in the noise as in the silence, the quiet moments that allows the musical notes just enough time to blossom and fulfil their potential in the overall structure of the symphonic achievement.

Symphonies and true governance have much importance in the scheme of life.  They provide the setting for intrinsic notes and individuals to achieve their full potential.   Both need the leadership of value, the awareness of silence and the persistence of spirit.  Most importantly, both require the appreciation of all the individual segments, even those individually imperfect in comparison to others, because in reality, each component, no matter its shape, is undiminished, a part of the whole.  Such notes are necessary to the complete the unblemished chords that make up the music of the symphony just like, similar individuals are necessary threads to complete the tapestry that is any society.

Ideals, like symphonies, have little place in our modern world and have been replaced by ideology.  It is only pragmatic ideology that will garner votes to ensure power, considered by most political leaders the end game of our political system.  The idealism of the thinkers who contrived the inspired concept of democratic equality has been buried by the pragmatism of voting and voters.

Long gone is the need for good governance, people involvement and the aspirations of utopian ideals to make the world better for all who inhabit it.  Dreams and aspirations have been lost to the fickleness of wants and expectations.  Perhaps, our generation with its materialistic accomplishments, thought that Utopia had been reached and traded off their aspirations for expectations.  The reality is, that most of these expectations are well beyond the reach of any individual, party or system.

Governments today, have lost sight of their role in providing forethought, continuance and leadership.  Most governments consider themselves delivers of services and cash.  People have become maginalised and are now considered customers.  Marketing has replaced participation, polling has replaced dialogue and consultation has replaced real input.  Consultation has become an excuse to ask people without listening.  It has become a means to demonstrate, that whatever government is about to deliver, has been vetted by the public.

The fundamental need to win elections at any cost has made democracy a hollow sham.  It has been replaced by the ideology of politics and parties, forcing conformity rather than openness, dispute instead of debate and criticism more so than reflection.  Conformity is what people have been led to expect, in what passes for democracy in most of the developed world.

The loss of ideals has led to the demise of every great society in history. Ideals were the underpinnings of the institutions.  As ideals were neglected or dismissed, institutions collapsed and society imploded upon itself.

We have witnessed it most recently in Eastern Europe, where the ideal of communism and its promise of equality was soon lost to the pragmatism of power.  It was evident in Germany where the ideal of Aryan supremacy was supplanted by the atrocities of  the holocaust when idealism fell victim to ideology and the power that ideologues portray.  It has been experienced throughout the British Commonwealth where the ideals of British civility most often have been supplanted by the brutality of localised thuggery.  And it is being witnessed in America where the idealism of freedom is being traded for the corruption of expediency.

We always seem oblivious of history as we so willingly fritter away our ideals in exchange for what might be immediate.  It is most evident in our world that individuals lack opportunity to fulfil their worth, relationships are considered passé and sovereignty only a myth.  Individual ideals no longer have value, it is the ideology of pragmatism that has worth.

Symphonies have been dealt the same fate.  No longer do youth appreciate the sweet melody of harmony, they much prefer the harsh vibrations of  discord.  Perhaps there is a correlation between the expectations that we have passed on to our siblings and the noise that is considered music.  Missing are the aspirations of belief tempered with the patience of time.  Both have been replaced by the necessity of relief and the expectation of the immediate.

The measure of accord that has been induced and the harmony that has been achieved in any developed civilisation has always been evident in its music.  Ideals like musical notes have to be recognised for their individual value and collective worth.  It is the valuing of the single notes that leads to the worth of the music that we create, as it is, the genuine appreciation of each person that is significant in the society that we build. True democracy requires the synthesising of individual ideals in order to gain and maintain the acceptance of the majority.

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