Monday, September 6, 2010

Blah, Blah, Click, Click

I don't think laws in South Africa are formulated by the SA people anymore - these days laws just break the news when they are about to be passed by parliament - like the POI and Media Tribunal - and as they clearly demonstrate, these are one-sided and extremely partisan, working against democracy. This is not transparency, this is not "due process". We need more "Glasnost" in South Africa!

Everywhere, I hear people complaining about politicians and politics, people whining that "The elected should remember how they got elected - and every decision they take should be given the litmus test "Is this good for the people?". When they remember that being elected is an expression of trust by the people and not a ticket to entitlement we might get somewhere."

Of course, as this person (a good friend of mine from High School days) says - "If anyone looks up the dictionary definition of democracy they might be in for a shock."

Chambers dictionary defines democracy as - "a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people collectively, and is administered by them or by officers appointed by them; the common people; a state of society characterized by recognition of equality of rights and privileges for all people; political, social or legal equality."

And as he pointed out: "Now, where exactly does it say "majority rule"? Democracy means that every person has an equal voice - and equal responsibility."

Thank you Morne' - *applause* - If everyone thought like that (in particular the last sentence), I would have no problem getting volunteers to help in canvassing or advocacy. Clearly, not everyone thinks the same way, or even thinks at all. We live in a culture of placing blame, passing the buck and scapegoating. But my friend's observations did not end there, however.

"My question is what happened to pride?" He said. "Remember when we'd proudly hand in a school project and claim "it was all my own work" or when being creative the result would have "I made this" as a proud stamp. When things go wrong you equally have to stand up and say "I did that". If you do something and it goes pear-shaped, admit it. Getting it wrong is part of life, passing the buck just makes you look incompetent. Even the best get it wrong. What makes them the best is the admission of failure and then the effort to fix the mistake."

I agree. Let's take the school project example. Do you know how easy kids have it today with research? Just pop on the web or google it. Download it, print it. Worse yet, do you know how many parents ask me to do it for them on behalf of their kids? Because their kids need blah, blah for their school project, and they don't know where to look or to find blah, blah, etc.

We had to do it all ourselves, go to the library, look for a book, make models, make photocopies, make posters or draw pictures by hand - and be creative. The most help I used to get from my parents was a suggestion of what sort of project to do - I had to do it all myself. We used to get penalized if the teachers even suspected our parents did our projects for us. These days, homework and school projects are broadly an extra load on the parents while the kids sit on the sidelines, being spoon-fed and getting graded on the efforts of their parents (no doubt putting the skills they learned at school to good use). That gripe aside, these days it is far easier and there is more info available - and it is easier to find - but people are also lazier, too lazy to look for it, think about it, make use of it, to do it themselves - blah, blah, click, click.

It's the same now in politics and democracy - the people who have the final say - the voters - expect other people to do everything for them without them having to make the effort to lift a finger to get involved, or to be bothered with the details - and as the old saying goes: "the devil is in the details".

Details like less people will object to the so-called "Porn" Bill because they will just see "porn" on it and agree with it in principle, without noticing that it is geared towards censoring the internet, mobile networks and TV - and can be used to prevent Jane and Joe Public from accessing anything the government will deem "inappropriate" or a "threat to children". Yes, details like that.

People sitting on the sidelines will soon get upset when they can't access their chat websites online (a "threat to state security"), or watch their favorite gay, trans or lesbian character in a soapie ("perverse", contrary to "nation-building" and a "threat to children"), or read believable investigative journalism (another "threat to state security") in news media anymore - but by then it will be far too late. Transparency and freedom of access to information and freedom of the Press are paramount - WITHOUT THOSE THINGS, WE HAVE NO DEMOCRACY. Without these things, we can forget about free and fair elections, and non-interference of the Big Brother state in public and private affairs.

It has been really annoying lately, speaking to people who are supposed to be responsible enough to vote - after all, they have the required bar-coded green ID book, they can own and drive a motor vehicle on a public road and are supposed to be responsible enough to not kill people in the process. They're old enough to own a gun. It's frustrating how many people try to excuse their uselessness and stupidity with brainless comments like "If I were to vote, it won't make a difference" and "Nothing will help now - this country is f***ed." Well they're wrong - and right at the same time - wrong because their failure to vote is a failure of democracy - and their failure to vote to make a difference is a vote against democracy. And they're right, because they are the useless barnacles that are f***ing this country up by not participating in the decision-making process that could make a difference.

We need less blah, blah, click, click - and less barnacles. We need more people who walk the talk.

Which one are you?

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