Last night I was watching an excerpt from an interview that famous stand-up comic Louis CK gave a year ago. In the interview, he discussed why he had spoken and written about Trump and the potential impact he could have on the system – mainly because, unlike his role model and mentor George Carlin, political critique was never Louie’s style. In spite of the controversy around this comments and his explanations to those in the interview, he said something that really hit me – hard.
Democracy means that many times I’m not comfortable or even completely disagree to what the government is doing. That’s how I know that the system is working.
This is such a simple yet the most powerful definition of democracy that I have come across. The most marked characteristic of humankind is the diversity that it offers. Race, ethnicity, cultures, religion, sexual orientation – we are one of the most diverse species to have inhabited the planet. When we imbibe ‘democracy’ as a principle, it comes with two caveats – first, everyone has equal rights to participate, and second, the majority decides. You can question the basics of this principle as much as you want, but you got to live with the corollary of this hypothesis – that sometimes you will not be okay with the way things are. And that is a good sign, because in that case the other side is also heard.
I do agree that the gravity of those inconveniences can vary from the troubling conditions of the roads to a systemic communal divide that is creeping up in the society. But just ask yourself this question – if you choose to make a generalized view of the whole system because of a microscopic view, aren’t you part of the problem itself? Do you not, by extrapolation, disrespecting every other opinion in that regard? It’s a vicious cycle because then the people on the other side of the argument do the same thing. No one wants to lose the fight, and the irony is that the only way you can win is by realizing that there is no fight. It’s a classic example of the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
Democracy is an imperfect solution. But it is far better than any other alternative that we have. We need to keep perfecting this idea, that iteration upon iteration, the solutions churned out by this system allow for inclusion of as many people as it can. Don’t stop fighting against the things that you feel are not right or raising your voice. Democracy is better because it allows for course correction.
George Bernard Shaw had yet another take on the system which I often relate to –
Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.