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Writers Notebook
In The Jury Box;

By David Eide


"....when you decide a case you bring in all your experience, knowledge, and common are not a robot."
Instruction of a judge to a jury.


Is It A Democracy Because:

  • 5% of the people are fully developed liberal democratic citizens?
  • The majority of people affirm it as a democracry by participating in it on some level?
  • When a problem is perceived popular movements arise to deal with it? The people don't wait for the government to act,
  • No matter the status in life, people are living with dignity and as much self-reliance as possible and look to a bright future? Is there a perceived current of advancement to give people hope?
  • All of the above?
  • Are the basic foundations in place and/or has corruption made the foundation moot? That is, due process, accountability, "government of the people, by the people, and for the people...?"
  • Is the Constitution is a living document?

The 5% of fully developed citizens would bother me a lot. As this democracy gets squeezed more and more by the pressures of the global scene that 5% may see itself as the "only saviors of democracy" and decide that to save it the democracy must be handed down to those who are fully developed. All it would take is one or two generations of seperation and then complete ignorance in the remaining 95%. That could go on for centuries.

On the other hand it sometimes appears so strong one is thrown against himself and has to ask the question, "why bother with these things, democracy is now an instinct in the people and it will reign for eternity." And we know the fatal flaw in that thought.

Perhaps those who think on democracy are busy-bodies with nothing better to do. Perhaps the greatest exemplar of democracy is the quiet man or woman who is working some desolate job, takes care of children and lives with honesty day after day. Perhaps that person is worth all the words spilled on behalf of democracy. "You think too much," they would say. "Do something worthwhile." They are right, I have little doubt about it. Yet we know things end.

We know that a democracy has produced a huge government with, now, immense responsibilities. It acts in my name, among a few hundred million others. It is important that democratic people know what power is up to since that power is "derived" from them. But it is also important that a citizen go beyond the two prevelant tendencies in a democracy: the utter distrust of government and the complete obedience to it. Experience and knowledge are supposed to break the hypnotism of those attitudes and lead the citizen to higher forms of knowing so that he or she can make practical decisions about policy, long-term goals and so on.

Why should a democratic person give up his ability to know what power is doing to those who either want to destroy the power or keep it maintained exactly the way it is? If nothing else democracy destroys the old tendency to turn political power into a series of myths and expects the whole of it to think. Democracy is a thinking person's system.

* * * * * * * *

Politics is a wicked sort of obligation for the free citizen. It says, "we are limited, temporary beings and will be out of here before you know it but....." And there's all that differentiation that goes on: nation, state, community, self. Why should I be more interested in America, as a nation, than Uganda or Romania? It's because I am compelled to by the ability of America to tax me, arrest me, use force in my name, obligate me to follow rules and regulations and so on. It puts me in a system whether I agree to it or not. And it works only if, in a state of freedom I am tested as to the idea and accept the terms of the contract between myself and the nation. From that moment on I am in a constant state of flux between being pissed off, in fits of laughter, or something in between.

It is orientation if nothing else. Especially if a person is tested to the limit on his relationship to the country of birth. A good test will pull a free person through some dark material and he will have to fight to get to the otherside. And in those spaces where is one?

What about 56%? That would be healthier.

May 22, 2014

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