The price of democracy is responsibility

Monday, July 28, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

In a democracy, the citizens are responsible for the actions of their government.

Some years ago, then Senator Barry Goldwater said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Just how vigilant have we been, not only of our leaders, but also of ourselves? Are we at this sorry pass in our affairs because of bad leadership, blind followership, or both? Ignorance, stupidity, bad luck, or bad judgement? Even, perhaps, God's will, punishment for sin?

Liberty is not licence. We fancy ourselves free, but recall the IMF strictures. We vote (or not) for the party whose colour corresponds to our blood, our beer, or our politically conscious fowls, then we vociferously assault our anointed ones for their incompetence, corruption and neglect. And next election, we vote for the same rapscallions. So who is at fault?

If we repeatedly invite the mongoose into the fowl coop, are we not insane to expect a different result each time? Bear in mind that we have been told that 30 per cent of us are in need of psychiatric intervention, so perhaps that answers the question.

One ancient well-known form of governance is the Bread-and-Circus Routine. Free bread, free circuses to divert and distract the masses so Caesar rules untroubled by rebellion. With our famous creativity we have adapted this to circuses to distract us from the rising price of bread. We revel in circuses so much so that we no longer have nine-day wonders; we have instead three-day circuses.

But outside the noisy tents, a tragedy grinds on. The lives of young people are blighted, hopes and dreams crushed, ambitions and sacrifices wasted on the hard ground of 21st century reality. Simply put, little education, small future for the majority. Why is this so? Does it have to continue?

I have too often asked myself: Is it possible that there exists an implicit, unspoken agreement between our political practitioners to ensure the continuation of this travesty, to ensure themselves immunity from aware, informed, critically thinking citizens?

More disturbing is: Are we complicit in this so as to avoid responsibility, conveniently putting the blame on the shrugging shoulders of our stalwart leaders?

And most frightening, could this be what we the people really want deep in our inmost selves?

Do we want the rule of law and its enforcement? Do we really want an incorruptible police force? Do we want equitable and efficient tax collection? Do we want truth from our leaders, rather than platitudes and promises, so much easier to utter and to hear? Who is responsible for us being in the predicament we now face? Whence is the mendicancy and mediocrity? Let us please not blame the IMF, the CIA, the JLP, the PNP, God or the Devil. We have been there, done that. We must now look in the mirror. I believe that is where the answers are. We, the people, are the last, best and only hope.

David Buckley

David Buckley297@gmail.com

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