(Copy of speech given this morning to fellow-Toastmasters)
Democracy is too valuable to be taken for granted. Wherever this form of government is, it was hard won and paraphrasing Winston Churchill ‘despite its deficiencies it seems the best form of government we’ve come-up with to-date’.
However, though most of us may think we’re more educated and civilized given recent unanticipated developments even disclosures of the past week in Ottawa we should be extra vigilant.
I’m referring of course to the rulings last week by the speaker of our House of Commons which if we think about them, must generate some concern that our rights and conventions are as some of us keep saying are being abused, over-ridden and ignored.
Today more than ever before in history, politicians and governments need to pay attention to and respect democracy or eventually they and subsequently we all will pay the price of their folly. And, as you’ve likely heard some say, “our actions come back to haunt us” and as some also say “what goes around comes around”.
All ‘The good Books’ proscribe and encourage us to respect each other. In fact; the purpose of the 10 commandments or the “Golden Rule” as some use is to help us regulate, guide and help us to live in harmony and respect with each other.
And, we expect those in authority especially politicians to adhere to the spirit of these codes in place to help order society. But often they don’t abide by them and we wonder why not since it seems common sense to minimize difficulties likely to arise down the road.
Of course, one reason is that they have totally lost touch with their constituents; otherwise how can they justify and allow the blatant abuse and inequities to occur, even continue.
Despite religion and increasingly educated populations common sense seems to be forgotten. Even if only from a common-sense perspective and a knowledge of ‘civics’ and psychology to reinforce the need for progressive adjustment to ever changing circumstances it must be recognized that we need some laws and regulations to help maintain some order and stability in society.
Usually, as everyone gets more educated and wiser they’re not as readily fooled nor are they prepared to accept being treated like children or second-class citizens. As has been said; “you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all the time”.
Sure; laws can feel harsh and cold. But because of individuals’ tendencies to forget over time due to getting caught-up in living and our inclinations and want to control and get our way, we need help or reminders which may be better taken if couched less harshly. As some come to realize “we catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.
For some it is more palatable or accepting when regulations and laws are presented as guidance rather than cold proscriptions which can also stimulate the reverse to the intended effect.
Human inclinations and forgetfulness can lead us to become insensitive to others so we must have some laws and reminders to help us and assure the public good. However, we also need examples since most of us unconsciously model others, but we need good mentors with high expectations since “what we expect and verbalize is what we will get”.
Somehow, despite history showing numerous examples of follies and though many more are more-educated nowadays such wisdom eludes many leaders as evidenced by recent happenings especially in the Middle-East. And, "lest we forget";
Though wars from time immemorial show folly of all sorts and some say our worst folly occurred in Germany in the years leading up to WW 2 we do not appear to learn and we forget. Good-living, law and order abiding people got duped into accepting and allowing de-regulation that resulted in unconscionable atrocities. Some see analogies to what happened in Germany in the ‘30s in our own political situation when in a few years people were stripped of their rights and didn’t appear to recognize it.
As I speak, Mr. Gadaffi is viciously annihilating his own people. Is the only recourse and hope that their Arab neighbors will step-in and put a stop to such wanton annihilation and destruction; or should we be doing more, even intervening?
How can such people claim to believe in God but I, and I suspect you question that how then they justify and do what they’re doing. Despite progress and learning is bad inevitable. Hopefully their neighbors will intervene and not allow them to bully defenseless people with sheer force and tyranny so they can continue to have their way.
On the other hand some tell us that we don’t even need to consider such long past or further-away happenings reminding us that what happened in Germany is happening right here in our own country.
Consequently not only and especially politicians and those in authority but all need to be alert or we too can unwittingly allow to happen what we don’t want and quickly we could be the next similar to Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Bahrain, Sudan and now Libya.
We need to speak-up to ensure those behaving contrary to our expectations know such is not acceptable. We even need to be prepared to turf them.
We need to cherish and safeguard democracy and we need people of integrity and proven record that work for its continuation. I trust your good judgement; that we will make the right decision and when the next opportunity arises we will pick such custodians. Long live democracy! Michael