So we think we have seen it all … Democracy? What’s the big deal! Politics is sooooooooo boring … Civics was the worst subject ever! And what’s the point of elections anyway? Nothing is going to change our life! Yada, yada, yada …
But sitting in our bedrooms, checking out Vimeo or YouTube or chatting with our friends on Facebook, we don’t “get” the importance of Democracy. Because we have it, we take it for granted. That is, until it is taken away from us …
What if we met someone who has never seen equal opportunity amongst people and has never known what it means to speak freely? Someone who is afraid he may never see his family again if he joins in street protests against high food prices and unemployment, someone who fears for her life if she does not swear loyalty to a tyrannical dictator who has ruled over her country forever?
There are millions just like that all over the world. It could be a Libyan in Misrata, an Algerian in Algiers, a Yemeni in Sana’a, a Syrian in Homs or in any or all the other places in Northern Africa or the Middle East where people have taken to the streets demanding equal opportunities and Freedom!
What kind of country would you rather live in? One where you are ruled over by an individual – a monarch or more likely, tyrant – or where you are ruled by a small élite class – an oligarchy? Or would you rather be ruled by the people, which is how Plato defined Democracy?
The defining principles of Democracy are freedom, liberty and justice. Freedom to govern and, in turn, to be governed. Liberty to choose what you want to do or where you want to live. And justice that brings equality to all, not simply to the influential and the wealthy.
The most valuable gift of Democracy is the citizen’s right to vote. Our vote is our voice, our opinion, our power to decide who should govern for us and how. When we vote, we choose the representatives who would make the laws and policies that govern us.
In a true democracy, we the people choose the government we deserve. If a large number of us choose not to vote, or vote for a party without carefully making our choice, we would elect to power a government that does not speak for us.
Nigeria just held their first free and fair elections and soon the world’s biggest democracy, India, would be heading for provincial elections. Here in Canada, we go to the polls on May 2. To make an informed choice about which political party you should vote for, check out CBC’s Vote Compass:
The right to choose who governs over us and, to govern for us, is the true power of Democracy and the Power of the People. This is the power that so many in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan and Morocco yearn for and are literally dying for by defying their tyrannical dictators ever since the uprising started in Tunisia and Egypt in January and February this year.
They know what it is like not to be free. We in the Free World, do we really appreciate what it means to be free? When we choose not to vote, we give away our power to choose. We give away our right to be free. So think about this and consider voting this Election. Each of our votes is really a big deal.