Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Making Democracy Work

As the history has proved that the best form of democracy is by and through the people, it is important that the people who live within democratic societies must have an active role within the making, sustenance and development of democracy. Democracy is not possible without people, but it is not strong without vigilant and active citizens who both understand the demands and the challenges of democracy but also play an active part in the affairs of the state. This participation should be both at individual and institutional levels.
Strong democracies have always had strong institutions. The institutions that are not run by the whims of the individuals but the ones that guarantee the collective objectives and wellbeing. The basic institutions that can ensure proper democracy are the ones that are part of judiciary, legislature, executive and media. These institutions should ensure that they perform their duties by prioritizing the democratic values and principles and they contribute in the nourishment of democratic culture. If these institutions favor the interests of certain individuals or the group of individuals, they can never support in strengthening democracy.
At the individual level, the most important prerequisite is that the people must bring change in their behavior and attitude. A democratic behavior is largely based on the art of proper speaking and the patience to listen carefully. Democracy supports the freedom of expression and allows everyone to say what they want to say. In democracy, we basically accept the sort of environment wherein we can be opposed openly. Those people who support democracy fundamentally want that the issues should be solved through dialogue and reasoning not through violence. They want that the opposite reasons should be listened to sufficiently and the claims should always be reconsidered.
Within democracy, as an essential element, we need to develop the preparedness to accept that the truth may not be with us and it may be with others. Democracy is never suitable for those who believe that their views are absolute and final and they do not have the patience to listen others. That is the basic reason that Taliban do not favor democracy. They believe that only their ideas and thoughts are correct, while all others have ‘false’ and ‘non-Islamic’ ideas and thoughts.
It is really vital to understand this basic truth that the absolute truth has never been known by the people. Yes, certain aspects of a complete truth have been known and people have to compromise with the same. These aspects are present within different circles. Within the circle of politics, the aspect of truth lies within a system which considers the welfare of the people as its basic pillar. And, democracy strives to establish the sort of circumstances that are suitable to guarantee welfare of the people.
Though we have had considerable strides towards democracy, yet there are many behavioral issues that we need to deal with. We have dishonesty in our intentions and extremism in our actions. The difference in opinion and thoughts are dealt through intolerance and even violence. Mahatma Gandhi had said that intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. Our statements have taken the shape of threats. Some people have even started the attitude of calling others with different opinions as non-Muslims and infidels. The true spirit of democracy can only be found in the theories and promises; therefore, the people do not see the true practice of it and are ambiguous about it. This is really unfortunate that at this instance of hope and great expectations, we are suffering from these problems; yet, we do not have to be disheartened. Acquiring a true and stable democracy is a difficult task and it requires a lengthy process of evolution. The great democracies in the world have been able to achieve their distinct positions only after many decades of political evolution. We, therefore, require giving it time and never give up struggling for it.
If we really like democracy and democratic values, we would require making its prerequisites possible. We would need to feel our responsibility in order to lead our country towards true democracy; otherwise, the dream of democracy may shatter and we will not be able to recreate it. Though the roles of government and the people are vital within a democratic system, most of the responsibilities go to those leaders and religious scholars who have great influence in forming the opinion and the attitude of the people. They need to understand that instead of sowing the seeds of hatred and intolerance in the minds and hearts of the people, they can spread love and tolerance and they can really participate in forming an environment that is suitable for democracy.
Thus, the dream of a stable and well-developed democratic system can change to reality in our country if there are honest and dedicated efforts at both individual and institutional levels – efforts that are not aligned with the personal benefits but support the democratic principle and democratic values.