Compass

Fresh Perspectives You Can Use.

Mark Shuttleworth : Cultural Choices We Make in Democracy Right Now

Copywriting to promote your businessI stumbled across Mark Shuttleworth’s Blog on Sunday and his latest entry there impressed me SO much that I’d like to call your attention to it today.

I have often said that everyone gets the government he deserves, and Mark Shuttleworth confirms this when he speaks from my heart about making, and constantly remaking, cultural and political choices.

In Defense of Independent Governance comments on the value of three key principles across continents and decades :

  • That human nature is unchanging across the world and across time
  • That the presumption of innocence until the proof of guilt is a vital choice in the maintenance of a free society
  • That freedom of speech is essential for a healthy society

Close to the end he concludes : “These principles are not written in the laws of physics – we create them in society, and we must defend them. They cannot be taken for granted, even in countries like the USA, which have them written into their constitutional DNA.

Since they are a choice that society makes, and since society is reborn in each generation, they are a choice that society must make, and remake, constantly. Sometimes, we fail.”

If you can, I’d like to urge you to read the whole article – it’ll only take you five minutes, but here is another excerpt (my emphasis underlined and bold) :

It is a tragic thing to impose ones own cultural, religious or political views on people who see things differently. That tragedy has played out far too many times – from Apartheid, to the Holocaust, to the invasion of Iraq in recent history, to the acts of the Conquistadors centuries ago.

It shows up when a new government renames the streets and cities of the old government, which renamed them from the previous government. We lose our own identity when we lose the voice of history, even if it is a history of which we are ashamed.

It also shows up in the homogenization of global culture, with McDonalds and Disney turning the rich culture of the world into large swathes of barren desert. I am very sensitive to the beauty of the cultures that I’ve been privileged to experience in depth – South Africa, Russia, England, America. And I find it sad when one culture arrogantly suppresses another. I believe in letting people make their own choices. The future belongs to those who embrace global thinking without losing their identity and their culture.

At its largest, grandest level, “making choices” is what democracy is all about. However, sometimes the illusion of democracy is used to give legitimacy to choices that were not, at all, democratic.

In Zimbabwe, for example, we have a government that is in power “democratically” because of the systematic culture of fear that was created every time people expressed an interest in making a different choice. I cannot therefore pay much respect to the idea that the government of Zimbabwe is a true reflection of the cultural choices of Zimbabweans.

In such cases, we are obliged to question the decisions made by governments who claim to hold power by democratic mandate, when in fact they hold it by brute force.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Tuesday, 22 May 2007 - Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter

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