By Jamal Drammeh
Polarity is the natural law that unites the ‘opposing’ forces or elements of nature to allow existence, and to maintain creation. It is the regenerative force that supports life and maintain balance in the universe. Within this principle – is also the law of duality, cause & effect and the law of gender – uniting male and female, and hence ensure continuity for humanity. This sublime law is also loaded with subtleties, nuisances and contradictions.
People generally want to distinctly classify everything and every person into a precise column – and label them. Society wants to marked and stamped each one of its members with a fix identity. A person is expected to be against something or for something; to be for government or against government.
Nevertheless, this very impulse goes against the workings of nature, from which society proceeds and by extension – government.
Our dislike for nuisance is manifested in all areas of our lives. We are quick to turn our admirations to idolatry; quick to become zealots in defense of our philosophical leanings; and quick to turn our political affiliations into fanaticism. Our debates are convulsive because of mean motives. Our words fall on deaf ears because they’re often loaded with malaise or hypocritical tendencies. Too many talents are wasted because we seek not to inform and inspire, but to demean and demoralize. Good measure of our intellectual prowess remain dormant because of our love of parroting other men’s thinking – instead of communicating our own.
The question still remains; how does one support and oppose a government simultaneously?
Another contradiction which begs for an answer is; if the very creation of government implies that man, if left completely free, cannot be trusted with the government of his own affairs without injury to others. This made it reasonable to ask – how then can society choose few amongst them, equally fallible, and entrust them with immense clout to rule over them?
Does this precept also imply that – people in power are better humans than the rest of us?
The simple answer to this last question is a simple. NO.
The object of this series remains to be an attempt at answering these pertinent questions, and to examine the very concept of ‘opposites’ in society and governance – and to examine this very seeming contradictions that makes society possible.
In other words, an attempt to communicate the incommunicable; subtleties, nuances and ‘apparent’ contradictions. Words and language are insufficient to communicate subtle precepts and nuances, but where I fall short with words – I’m hopeful the sentiments will nevertheless be rendered in a sufficient measure.
In our political discourse; one is often expected to fully embrace a certain party line or condemn it altogether. One that refrains from party affiliation, is at best viewed with suspicion, and at worst, held at contempt.
If we take nature for reference, society will not lose its noble ways and turn civic responsibility into a mere spectacle. Like the law of polarity; the spirit of resistance to government must always run parallel to the ebullient support of government. It is this spirit of resistance that keeps governments aright and responsive to the demands of the society.
Government is the machine that a society creates to execute her will; but government not being a pedant, society shall remain vigilant and mindful to the possibility of this machine going rogue. The power to restrain it must be readily available. For government often gains in decorum but not in principle.
The ultimate power is with the people, but they must be aware of it to make it useful. The fountain that fuels the machine called government, is supplied by the citizens. This is true in every society, but the constitution of a democracy specifically charter the citizens as custodians of this sacred fountain from which real power proceeds. Any other way by which force is exhibited in governance is only an extemporaneous half possession.
The vote and the voice of the individual citizen, the right to peaceful assembly, and the active participation in the political discourse are the outlet of this true power. These are the sources of all legitimate power in a democracy. The proper use goes to ensuring effective governance and shaping of a better society. There improper use or lack thereof can be detrimental or be weaponized to suppress dissent, or worse, facilitate the destruction of society.
The world is not short on examples of governments dominated by widespread corruption and unscrupulousness across government agencies and public enterprises. This attitude is observed around the world, though at varying degrees. Our political systems promote nepotism, cronyism and wasting of the country’s resources. The corruption of public officials also goes to undermined the legal systems in the quest to guile their crimes.
Citizens always feel this betrayal by the people in power; this sentiment goes to erode their confidence in government and its stewardship of the state affairs. As a consequence, citizens lose their sense of duty and obligations to state.
This in turn, breeds laziness, slovenliness and intellectual prostitution amongst the citizenry. So the citizens are pained to take civic duties seriously or even pay their taxes, and at worst, some become rebellious anarchists. This attitude of the society then goes to further furnish the government’s standing vices of corruption, favoritism, nepotism and cronyism as the cycle continues…..
To break this cycle; enough members of the society must demand it and work to make it happen by persisting on their demands. Fundamental or structural change in governance only comes about from the direct action of the people. This is because civil society forms the conscience of a nation, which goes counter to the basic instinct of the people in power. Self-preservation. People in power will not work to relinquish any of their mechanical advantages.
Without the constructive engagement and the resistance of the people to safeguard their liberties – every democracy is a tyranny in waiting. If modern history taught us anything about dictatorship; they all emerge from democracies.
Resistance is the centerfold of a vibrant democracy; it embodies the ingredients to protect it from becoming a dictatorship. It is easy to say; ‘never again!’ – but unless this spirit of resistance continues in parallelism to the evolution of the government; it still remains a dictatorship in waiting.
Democracy is still an experiment; the best it can supply has to come from the society. Each society writes its practical laws and the dictates of its democracy by the conduct of the citizenry. There is no perfect model for democracy; each nation must weave its cobweb of governance around the virtues and the values of the society. It must also uphold the inalienable rights and dignity of all of its citizens regardless or race, tribe, culture, creed or religion.
In quest to this noble end, one principle that should never be compromised is – justice for all of its citizens. It is the duty of every decent person to stand for justice and prevent injustice and injury to his fellows. The conscience of the people is indispensable in ensuring fairness and proper application of the nation’s laws and constitution.
Laws and constitutions are always arbitrary, and are never absolute. Misappropriation of the laws and the constitution by the state must always be resisted by the people. No unjust laws are worth the paper they’re written on, much less be respected by a mortal. The grandeur of justice over all human affairs cannot be overemphasized.
“In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” -St. Augustine.
Another hindrance to effective government and civil society is bigotry and intolerance. These social ailments cannot be eliminated without the active participation of a significant portion of the stakeholders in the society.
Government, private and public institutions, and the individual citizens have to be vigilant in combating intolerance and other moral turpitudes and ‘intellectual’ diseases which can’t be legislated away. To fight bigotry and intolerance; we must be accountable to one another.
Another impediment to a civil and more prosperous society is the simp pride of nationalism and xenophobia. This is a disease of the intellect that can quickly devolve into demagoguery and can lead to mutiny.
“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein Nationalism, of any value, is to support your countrymen in the course of justice and common good. To support government when it deserves it, but to go against when it when it betrays the sacred trust for which it is empowered. To defend the nation against all domestic and foreign aggressions.
Governments are also quick to exploit faux nationalism if it serves their base motives and have nothing better to offer to the masses. The old trick of the elite, the powerful and the government, is to exploit the diversity of the members of the society when it serves their interest. To arouse anger among ethnicities, religious groups and other subsets within the society in order to gain leverage.
Unfortunately, there are always willing enablers among all groups to promulgate such vile acts. Unless there are voices to appeal to our better instincts by direct actions, there is no hope for a civil society.
The fate of a democracy is determined by the people; democracy survives not by the efforts of a government but through the stupidity of those who work to destroy it. But there has to be people standing on guard to take advantage of their stupidity in attempts to subvert justice or to undermine democratic principles.
To be loyal to ones nation all the time is noble, but loyalty to the course of the country through the government should always be conditional. To be continued……