As they say democracy is not the easy option, democracy is hard and demands that we never stop working at it to keep it and improve it.
Fascism, communism, one party states, religious dictatorships, fundamentalist states be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish or blind ethnic governments are easy, yes easy!
What is difficult, is listening to people you don’t agree with, tolerating thoughts and ideas you are diametrically opposed to reading articles by those you feel should not be given a platform and having to see people, you feel should be locked up, demonstrate on the streets. That is difficult that is challenging and that is what gives democracy its edge.
Democracy is not soft, it is not the weaker option, it is solid, it is rock solid, hard core. It puts the fear of God and or anything else your little fascist or bigoted tin pot leader worships or fears. Behind their walls, fences, security forces, fanatics and other archaic apparatus they are safe in their arrogance and their deep seated self fear and loathing. But out in the open, here in the most advanced and developed state of human existence, democracy, they are small and weak. They can be questioned they can be laughed at, they can be shown for what they really are and namely that means very little.
Take Kim Jong-il, Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu, Mugabe and Jintao out from behind their armies, walls and sycophants and get them all to stand on a soap box in Hyde Park and watch them wilt. Drive down Park Lane and look into Hyde Park Corner and see people every day of the week stand tall and address any audience who will listen to their views. They are unaided and open to public abuse, but they represent to me exactly why England is still today a respected bastion of democracy.
Indians, Pakistanis, Israelis, Arabs, Africans, Chinese, Lebanese, Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans and the English! All those who disagree or despise their own regimes, governments or people, seek out London for their own political exile and space to think, breath, speak out and promote their position. What is more these nationalities above represent only a handful of the people represented and in each case there will be people with opposing positions and vastly differing political stances, but all find a space.
But back closer to home in South Africa. It is also not an easy option, South Africa it’s a tough call. There is no safety net, no real social services, no real state pensions or medical support. Poverty and misery live along side opulence and pretention, success can become disaster overnight, but hard work and dedication can give a family a wonderful life amongst decent and honest people.
South Africa to me is the twin sister of democracy, they are both hard work, both demanding and stubborn, but boy are they worth fighting to maintain, build and develop.
So when you see some threatened leader brag about their new wall, missiles or draconian new laws pity them, because that is what they deserve. Their fear and self doubt, their inverted sense of right and wrong and their narrow views will one day be their downfall. Embrace change and development, debate not disagreement, discussion rather than rhetoric and more than anything be inclusive.
The last two years have been very difficult for a great number of people. Recently we have seen businesses fold, restaurants close and friends humbled. The credit crisis is not over yet and the pain it has inflicted may actually take a generation to wash out of our psyche.
South Africa I fear will be slow to emerge from the world wide malaise, but there are signs everywhere that it is now beginning to happen.
It is often said that it is always darkest just before dawn, well I feel that the sun is beginning to peep over the horizon and the future can be brighter on many fronts, economically and politically.
It will never be easy being a democrat and it will never be easy being a South African. The choice to pursue and protect both is a noble course and in the end will prevail over all those who wish to restrict and restrain human development. You cannot impose democracy on anyone, but ultimately the human being will seek it out.