Dismantling Democracy

The people did not elect a king or a czar! Or did they?

The last time I was in Russia, I took a boat trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg. It was lovely as we stopped and explored villages along the way. It seemed like being more in touch with the real Russia.

In the process, we became quite friendly with and familiar with the crew on the boat, especially the tour advisors. We had many personal discussions about the differences between Russia and the USA. These discussions were especially interesting as this was a time when Russia seemed to be embracing the Western form of capitalism (especially materialism for the masses) and was, it seemed, very negative about democracy. Many of the group, myself included, were excited how open the Russian people we were “getting” to know were about how they felt and thought about these issues.

We asked if we might have a group discussion session in the dining room while the boat was steaming along and when docked and have a real discussion. Both sides agreed to do it!

I later realized that I entered the discussion harboring a major assumption – I (like many other Americans, I believe) assumed that if people – any people – were given the choice they would move in the direction of more personal freedom, a non-hierarchy class structure where all were equal and an equal voice no matter of race, sex, class, religion or ethnicity. Freedom of speech and choice is so precious to me that I could not believe that anyone would want less than that promise. Freedom of religion, no religion, or a spirituality that transcends the religions and the freedom to explore the options to me is as precious as and synonymous to my breath itself.

How could anyone not want that? I had spent much of my life studying and exploring the bits of truth in all religions, their misguided shortcomings and the seeking of wisdom that accompanies our spirits. Who, possibly, could wish otherwise?

The “discussions” we had were wonderful. I experienced a soothing openness as we all, as openly and honestly as we could, shared our wisdom, our beliefs, our questions and our frailties. I love those kinds of discussions and facilitate and participate in them whenever possible.

The major shocker to me was when the Russian group said very loud and clear – “We don’t want democracy!” Then is when I realized I had made a very big assumption. Wow! They actually did not WANT democracy!! How could that be?

“Why?” I asked.

“It’s too messy,” was the agreed upon response.

Wow! Isn’t anything that is worth its salt messy at times? I, for one, am willing to deal with a mess to defend anything that is really important if I have to. Are we/they just too lazy, detached, uninvested not to roll up our sleeves and get to work for something so precious?

I do believe that anything as important as the ideals of democracy not only deserves, it demands my participation and commitment.

And, that is where we are right now.

Never, in my lifetime, have I seen democracy so messy or so threatened. Oh, there have been hard times we have had to work through. I was born during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I have been blessed with a good memory from age two on. I remember people who were out of work and were hungry coming to our door and asking for food.

Grandma always said, “We don’t have much and we do have something. We will never turn someone away from our door hungry.”

Of course, my family was familiar and comfortable with the generosity of nature and much of what we had came from hunting and gathering. Grandma could make a nourishing soup out of anything. We got by and we always helped others with what we had.

That is what I thought democracy was . . . color or creed were never questioned. We were all part of a greater whole and when all participated with honor and respect, everything would work out. That was democracy.

One of the things I find confusing right now is that I did not think that the people who voted for Trump were voting for a king or a czar – – – or a dynasty. I did not think that the vote we had for a President in 2016 was a vote for or against democracy.

  • WAS DEMOCRACY ON THE BALLOT? It is beginning to seem like it was.

It sure seems like it with the way Trump, his family, his appointees, and his followers are acting is what we have. And, indeed, it looks messier than democracy.

I wonder what my Russian “friends” are saying.   Maybe they feel we are comrades now.

  • There is mess and there is MESS.

This one does not feel very productive.

  • AND, if it jolts all or most of us into the realization of how precious our democracy, our equality, and our freedoms are, then, sigh, the “mess” may be worth it.

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