Happiness is Beginning To Rise On The Streets Into Paradise Skies

Democracy is a funny creature, I am learning.

For one thing, it requires that people want it badly enough to stand up and insist on being granted a say in how things are done. This takes effort, and a lot of it, and most folks lose their taste for civic engagement once they’ve had to fight for their rights for a while.

For another thing, Democracy requires that people believe they have a right to it. As soon as they believe that they are only given as much democratic power as (appointed or elected) officials grant them, then they effectively abrogate their democratic rights to someone else. That might make things work smoother in the short term, but it has a way of inviting the kinds of casual abuses of democracy, or any system that purports to be democratic, whether it is in fact a democracy or not.

I’m not the kind of guy who likes to write screeds and speeches about how the world should work. I’m a fiction writer, which is a slightly different creature. Fiction writers, amongst other things, write scenarios that suggest how things might or might not work. Sometimes they present nightmarish worst case scenarios to explain how things can or perhaps already have gone horribly awry.

The reason I am writing this is to illustrate that, sometimes, even well-meaning people bungle when it comes to accepting and exercising their democratic rights. I won’t make any accusations or include names or dates or anything that can be tied back to people, real or imagined. I just want to give a for instance.

When a group of people get together and agree that events need to take place to ensure that a process of governance is running smoothly and healthily, the one thing you don’t want is someone from that group losing faith in the process shortly after the fact and starting to disseminate messages that the process isn’t working properly, simply because that person has become confused about something complex, and hasn’t taken an adequate amount of time to consult with people who might be able to answer their concerns.

Communication is also a funny thing. Much like democracy, it only works well when all parties are trying to work together to resolve a conflict or agree upon a matter of importance to all parties. Once people feel like they are the only one who knows what’s really going on, they have a tendency (like me in this post, really) to transform themselves into a distress beacon, which can signal disaster even when there is none.

The funny thing about communication is, when you start giving off signals of distress, it isn’t long before everyone starts treating you like you are in trouble, and anything you may have been trying to do before the signals went out tends to get get ignored. You effectively quarantine yourself. Desperation is the world’s worst cologne.

It’s like the worker bee that starts signalling that a stranger is in the hive, and sets everyone on high alert, getting all outsiders ejected violently, instead of going about their business and getting important stuff done. Now, in the bee world, it’s pretty unusual for strangers to be wandering about a hive, as there are bees whose whole job is to detect and remove strangers. But in the human sphere, we each deal with strangers almost every day. People we barely know, or only think we know, can suddenly turn around and do the strangest, and sometimes most distressful things, even without meaning to. Our immediate response is to send out an alarm and try to mitigate the damage as best as possible. It’s a perfectly natural situation.

The problem with it is, when we panic in the midst of a situation where not all is apparent, and all we can see is the surface impression of a bad situation arising, we sometimes invite bad things to happen simply because we’re panicking.

It’s like seeing the shadow of a wolf or bear on the wall of a cave and thinking you are in danger, and going for your rifle to deal with it, only to learn that in fact it was only leaves rustling in the moonlight. If you actually fire off a shot or two, you might actually attract something bigger and scarier (if they aren’t scared off by your gunfire, at any rate), and then you’ve really got a problem that you aren’t equipped to deal with.

These are pretty convoluted analogies, I know, but I really am struggling to understand something, and to explain it to myself (and to you) as I pick over it.

The problem with any system of governance is, if it’s old, it’s probably damaged in some fundamental way that can’t be readily seen from outside, and if it’s new, it probably looks broken because it doesn’t run as smoothly as the old system seemed to. The Russian government discovered this when they converted to democracy, and look where they are today: behaving like fascist dictators again.

This rumination has absolutely no bearing on anything I personally might be experiencing at this time.


In other news, no fiction writing (except possibly for this post) is getting written at present. I am officially too busy to write fiction at present, and I’m tired and uncomfortable, due to some lingering illness that has chosen now to make my life complete.

I still intend to get back to work on Sterling’s and Richard’s stories, and to perhaps get at least one more book done this year, depending on how soon I can get this Participatory Budgeting stuff taken care of.

Thank you for reading, and keep it under your hat. Or better yet, keep it under mine. 😉


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