Democracy should be the ultimate satisfaction survey.

The principle seems simple: a government is elected by the people, in order to govern the country to their benefit. The people expect this elected government to make sure that some basics are in place and well-managed. Things like infrastructure, education, health-care, policing, courts & jails, as well as the defense of the country’s borders. And so that the elected government have the resources to do this job, the people give-up a share of their income for the collective good.

In a more spiritual sense, the people expect the government they elect to maintain ‘freedom’, allowing them to live peacefully, earn a living, enjoy their family & friends & build a future for the next generation.

Governments are, in this sense, a service provider.

Elected to provide a service to a people living within a specific geographic area.

Glancing at today’s journalistic contributions, here in South Africa, it would seem ‘consumer satisfaction’ is at an all time low.

William Gumede speaks of the dissonance between people’s dissatisfaction with corruption & service delivery & the results at the poling station.

Phylicia Oppelt is honest about the fact that she just does not trust the government to educate her children, rather opting to pay exorbitant fees for private education, as she believes the country’s educational system to be in a shambles.

Which it is, in many ways, with teachers going on strike (setting an exceptional example to our future generations) and a mere 2 out of 5 learners starting school, ever completing their schooling successfully.

Redi Tlhabi is somewhat more direct, asking how it came about that people who have no regard for the welfare of the people (who put them in power) came to rule, with only an interest in their own advancement & wealth?

This off course is not a South African problem, or even an African problem, as white South Africans who reminisce about the meat-pots of their own aparthied-Egypt will be quick to suggest.

It is a global problem.

In the United States of America the ‘Occupy’-movement has been going on and gaining momentum for months.

In Tunisia a young fruit seller sets himself alight, sparking weeks of riots.

In Greece citizens, spurred on by local officials, are refusing to pay new taxes.

And in Italy the town of Filettino declares its independence from that country.

Across the globe, people are dissatisfied.

With democratically (and sometimes not so democratically) elected governments.

The global pot is brewing.

A new soup.

Democracy has been invaluable in bringing about stability, but it has never, in the history of mankind brought about change.

In India it was civil disobedience that brought them freedom.

In Poland the same.

In South Africa, it was civil disobedience that rid us of Apartheid.

Yet, we return to voting stations, intoxicated by advertising & PR-campaigns, we draw our cross and happily hope the tide will turn.

Our financial contribution (through taxes) will be utilized for the greater good of the group of whom we are a part, because we choose to live in this specific geographic area.

Some leave.

I do not think this world as ever before seen such a mass migration of people.

Britons come live in South Africa.

South Africans move to England & Australia & Canada.

Nigerians, Somalians, Ethiopians & Kenyans move to South Africa.

We ‘vote’ with our feet, it seems.

We’re unhappy with what is happening in this geographic area & so we move to another area.

Crime is too much.

Education is falling apart.

Health care is non-existent.

Infrastructure is collapsing.

And we move.

And we settle.

At great financial & emotional cost.

And we find a new government, as inadequate.

It was Henry David Thoreau who said, ‘that government is best which governs least’.

Governments govern excessively.

It was Arundhati Roy who reminded, ‘Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe.’

I imagine the same is true of schools not functioning properly.

And billions of tax-money inappropriately spent.

And hospitals not providing health-care.

It will only be when we all, seize to support the service provider, that the service provider will be out of business.

Perhaps the question is this: when will we reach the critical point of no return?

That point at which even the privileged cannot afford to buy their children private education & private healthcare & private security & private entertainment & private transport?

For it is when we reach that critical point that we will see the service providers challenged through civil disobedience.

Martin Luther King believed, ‘I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.’

Perhaps the issue is that we do not recognize evil anymore?

That we prefer to be lulled into comfortable ignorance, for as long as the evil’s effect affects me only marginally?


5 thoughts on “sated

  1. thank you my love… your post made me think about so many things. things that have been in my heart for a long time…if only we can find the courage and passionate energy (i say that because everyday life’s stuff drains us of passion) to pursue them!!!

  2. Lately I’ve been thinking about this so much, as I really feel the time’s at hand for global governmental reform: for righteousness to replace corruption. The question is how will I play a role in all of this if a war is still raging inside of me? For eternal Peace to replace the crippling effect fear has.

    I love South Africa passionately even-though we are living abroad for a while. In my case it has broadened my view so much and has given me a deeper understanding and passionate love for my people and country. It is like standing back from a painting, you get a better perspective, you see the bigger picture. It has also made me realise “evilness” lurks in every inch of this globe…until we become who we are purposed to be. But this asks of me to make a choice and it is not easy…

    The reality is I now live in another country where they can send my four sons to war if need be. Even if I hate the very thought of war with my whole heart, it doesn’t matter. Do we really have a democratic choice?

    There are two well established drug houses within walking distance from our very suburban home, one to the west, one to the south. I only found out this week and what upset me most is that many seems to know about it, but no-one is prepared to do anything. When I probed people as to why, they said that there will be consequences. Influential people are regular customers and they call on the gangs and the gangs “visit” your children… It suddenly hit me that even in this very democratic country the age-old emotion rules: FEAR. A fear of persecution, a fear of people, a fear of death. And now I’m confronted with it…it’s in my face and I have children.

    The war inside of me is raging…

    • Yes, ‘evilness” lurks in every inch of this globe…’ I see this too with friends and family living in other countries and yes, it is only as the peace is made inside of us that we can live.

      A time of global governmental reform is at hand – or at least people are hungry for it, everywhere.

      I find it interesting that ‘values’ have become the new Common denominator, this I believe is good, we can rally together around something we value collectively.

      I believe ‘change’ is delayed as ‘Church’ is stuck in modernist ways of conquering and controlling people, here the freedom needs to become real and it will go a long way to affecting our societies, I think.

      Our journeys take us many places, our eyes see many things, may we, in all of it, be connected and become and be, according to what (or who) has come to live inside our being.

      This changes everything.


  3. We ‘vote’ with our feet, it seems.

    I have a feeling that line will stick with me for a long time.

    And I have a sense that God will be taking our feet to some very unexpected places as we try to learn how best to live our lives in such uncertain times. Frankly, not to sound like a cop-out, but I do not believe that there will be true global improvement until Christ comes back and we’re all bending the knee.

    The best I’m really hoping for is a quiet, self-reliant lifestyle off the grid. . .though I suppose I’ll be singing a different tune when my little haven has been raided and burned to the ground by the desperate, hungry, violent masses this political unrest will certainly create in the U.S.

    • That’s the thing, isn’t it, Abigail? I do agree that it will really only change when Christ comes again, but I also believe that he is coming everyday, in us, through us and so, like you I hope for a quiet, self-reliant lifestyle, but one which shows ‘a little bit of him’ where I am, even if only in a few relationships and a small circle of influence, as we live and speak and engage.

      Love your poetry, you do not write often enough. T

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