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October 6, 2011

What Democracy Means To Us Today

To many of us democracy is a term that just gets thrown about in our lives, with the strained understanding that it constitutes individual freedom and the power to a voice. It is probably fair to say that we take it for granted and consider it a natural privilege, rather than an earned right. It is worth taking a moment to consider what it really means to the way we live in the 21st century.

Obviously, the whole concept of democracy is political in origin. Yet its principles are something that each of us share day by day. What it means to us is the freedom to do as we choose; it is the opportunity to vote, to get any job of our choosing and to not be discriminated against due to our position at birth. It is something that is being constantly refined over time. A democratic existence isn’t always guaranteed, despite being the core foundations of today’s society.

In these cases, it is easy to become satirical of its institution. However, within such moments it is important not to forget the otherwise unprecedented freedoms and equalities that it grants us. The worth of democracy becomes self-evident through how we live our lives; from the moment we awake in the morning to the moment that we fall asleep. In allows us to control our present and future. This is not only by being able to vote for political representation but, more importantly, being able to face the challenges of 21st century society without the heavy obstacle of inequality.

This might be a touch idealistic – for issues of inequality are still rampant within many sects of the world. Nevertheless, whereas in the past people were silenced due to their race, wealth or position at birth, under democratic states they are still given a voice with which to be heard. Under its protection all individuals are empowered to act and to speak, it does not subjugate and it does not silence.
Its failings, if it has any at all, are derived from its principle that the majority rule. On paper, this seems fair as it caters to the needs of the majority and not a select few. However in ways this can become another form of subjugation – for the needs of the few are unheeded and outweighed by the will of the majority. This can raise issues in countries that have smaller ethnic populations, who may seek different forms of representation to the majority.

Despite these arguable short-comings, however, it is a concept that embraces some of man’s most idealistic qualities and traits. Seldom are ideological institutions flawless or perfect, but it is necessary to credit them for their founding principles. In the case of democracy and how we see it today, remember it is a force and power that gives each individual the right to political expression and freedom of speech. Without it, our modern day existence would be an entirely different reality.



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