Hello my name is Christian Rodriguez and I am currently attending the University of Calgary as an undergraduate student. My major is International Relations. A special thank you to Carnegie Council for providing this opportunity!
Democracy: Emancipator, Enforcer, and Exemplar
Democracy is the just and liberal system that upholds the pillars of our free societies. More so than a system, it is an idea and a way of life. Much like how ancient Rome was much more than a vast expanse of land to its citizens. It has grown to be the universal symbol of freedom, equality, and justice; a beacon for the oppressed individuals of the world to look to with hope. Democracy is also an entente of quintessential ideas such as equality, liberty, education, and community. These are the most important things that present societies value. Without such values, we are brought back to where our ancestors started. A Dark Age where we are exploited and hereditary laws are emphasized more than reason or individual freedoms. Throughout history, it has always been democratic societies that have sought to liberate and educate those who are under tyrannical and autocratic rule. Historical events such as the French and American Revolutions only reinforce this. These two events exemplify the enlightenment that comes along with adopting democratic values, as well as its ability to grant and maintain liberty. The dictatorial regimes of history are caveats to what life is like with the absence of such a force; essentially the society in which Orwell’s Big Brother reigns. The freedoms we take for granted today would have never been realized or made possible without democracy’s inception. It is so deeply rooted in history and has taken thousands of years to develop and evolve into what it is today. The cultivation and preservation of mankind’s most important values through the centuries has resulted in democracy’s genesis. Essentially, democracy is the representation of mankind’s most important principles along with its ability to learn from a young past; progress.
It is through democracy that the inalienable rights of man are recognized and defended. Which are so often the very rights that many of us in the first world take for granted. In the past, such simple everyday things like the right to vote, freedom of association, or even having the ability to think for yourself was not even remotely possible. The rights of man are the guarantees and declarations that enable us to be who we truly are. They grant the equality of opportunity to pursue the things we value the most in our seemingly short and banal lives. Furthermore, these rights are what allow us individuals to interact peacefully with each other and establish our governments for the common good. In the days of old, hereditary systems such as monarchies were what governed human lives. Such systems are greatly flawed because they do not reflect the will of the nation itself, but rather those of nobles and royalty. Governments are institutionalized to enforce the rights and principles of the people. The nation is comprised of all those inhabiting the land, and no one man should have the power to override their wishes. As France’s Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen 1789 states, “The principle of any sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation. No body, no individual can exert authority which does not emanate expressly from it.” This is only one example of the inalienable and universal rights that we have today. These absolute rights are imperative today because they are responsible for granting us the numerous freedoms we enjoy. Without them, we live in fear and oppression, not being able to do everyday things such as voicing our perspectives to others. The only system that protects and recognizes the universal rights of man is democracy. No other idea or system has the capacity to provide for the whole world correspondingly. Because of democracy, we are employed the opportunity to enjoy our individual freedoms and to fairly partake in the magnificent things the world has to offer us.
It is through democracy that the tyrannical systems of the past have been toppled. Additionally, it is from democracy’s inception that egalitarian, socialist, and internationalist thought has emerged, resulting in the diversification of the political spectrum and the formation of international and intercontinental organizations like the United Nations and the European Union. At the base of these institutions and trains of thought is equality, community, liberty, and accountability. This foundation of democratic values is what allows them to operate with the people’s support. At the base of the numerous constitutions all over the world, these are the most common and prevalent values. Safeguarding these values is essential because allowing them to recede into darkness would result in the collapse of our societies. It is these values that constitute the pillars on which our society stands on. The laws that were erected by elected officials would be rendered useless, and we would recede back into the dark times of our past. History has allowed tyrants to run amok, but they have always been stopped by the democratic values that their citizens grew to adopt. A major strength of democracy is its ability to adapt to the times. As time advances, societies constantly change thus affecting the popular thought and perspectives that the people harbour. Democracy is a very malleable and adaptable system because it is institutionalized to reflect the will of the people. It is through the will of the people that elected officials hold seats in their respective republics, parliaments, and houses. The idea of self-governance through representation is a major key to democracy’s success. The governments of the past became ossified and grew to not reflect the desires of the people. This is widely illustrated by the fall of emperors and monarchs throughout history, from Louis XVI of France to Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Democracy is quintessential to the representation of the populace’s will because without it there would be no such things as transparency, constitutions, and accountable governments thus dissipating our individual rights and freedoms.
In conclusion, democracy is the central idea that cements the foundations of our societies together. Without democracy and the values that constitute it, the free societies of today would struggle and regress into the systems of old. Present governments would not be serving the people, but rather the opposite. A rejection or absence of democracy results in the forfeiture of transparency, accountability and representation. Moreover, there would be no tribune to safeguard the inalienable rights of man, thus resulting in the rescission of our individual liberties and freedoms. Democracy was once only the cornerstone of Western Society, but it has developed to become deeply entrenched in the constitutions of modern governments and most importantly, the minds and hearts of the free people throughout the world. It has evolved to become the quintessential symbol of the values that a free and just society must adopt. In the conflict-ridden nations of today, the common man is yearning to be freed from the despotic chains of authoritarian control. The refugee and immigration crises that we face today are a testament to how the oppressed gravitate towards the beacon of hope that is democracy. Democracy is not just an idea or system of government, but it is also the paragon of freedom and equality, which strives to emancipate the subjugated of the world. It is under democracy’s invigilation of man and its societies that we are given the opportunity to exercise and preserve the sacred words of the French Revolution, “liberté, égalité, fraternité.”