During this past week I heard someone around me saying that democracy is “the government of majorities.” That means: democracy is doing what most people want.
Does democracy truly means that? Well, I do not think so. My conception of democracy follows another kind of vision, a vision that embraces the growth of the whole person as fundament of any social order.
For me, the main characteristic of a democracy is that it is a social order that respect human rights. For me, democracy and human rights go hand by hand. I believe that there cannot be democracy without human rights, and there cannot be human rights without democracy; there cannot be politics without human rights and there cannot be human rights without politics. This means: if what the government wants or promotes is a violation of human rights, even if most people agrees with it or consent it, doing that is not democratic, it is a crime against humanity. This, of course, requires a correct conception of the person: it requires to be able to see that everyone is a human being with human rights to be respected. It requires to be able to see that human rights cannot be applied upon convenience. It requires a model of personal formation that is rooted in the whole human person, not only on some convenient aspects.
Here comes again a question that I have made in earlier posts: if the correct vision of our human personal formation is so important, who defines it? Who defines what is being human? Who defines what is a “human right” and what defines the basic characteristics of our humanity? Embracing the responsibility of deepen this is a true service to the common good of our culture, our nation and the whole humanity.
We can see that in order to have a democracy, a state of law cannot enough by itself. It must be accompanied by a correct conception of the person. A democracy that embraces a vision of the personal formation that does not honor all the human rights of everyone would transform the state of law in an ideological dictatorship, turning laws and government services into tools to push specific ideologies.
So, what is democracy for me? Democracy is a government system that guarantees that all the human rights of all citizens are properly respected, creating a society where everyone can grow with equality and freedom, a society that is centralized around helping to grow everyone in communion as a human being.
Democracy is a government system that promotes a correct conception of the human person and so a correct conception of the state of the law.
Democracy is a government that promotes the participation of everyone in political life, a government that promotes the inclusion of everyone in the culture and nation’s life.
Democracy is a government that builds a future filled with hope, life and peace; with growth that creates a better humanity for all.
Democracy is a government that encourages all citizens to serve the common good, even if it requires heroic choices.
This is something that is really important: you do not need to be a politic to embrace and promote democracy and human rights. I can promote democracy right here where I am with my heroic choices: choices that help everyone to grow placing the common good first. I can promote human rights right here and right now with heroic choices too: choices that give human life to my culture, that give humanity to my nation, that create a better world for everyone.
This, of course, also requires a correct conception of what is common good: what helps everyone to grow as the best person she or he can be. I mean: the “common good” is not what is convenient to some, is what helps everyone to grow in communion. The common good is the good of the whole person and the good of every person. The common goods does not refer to material aims or ideological aims but to aims that embrace our whole humanity. Yes, defending the common good sometimes requires heroic choices. We should not be afraid of serving the common good, especially if we are Christians that are specifically called to make visible God’s Love wherever you are, whatever you do. One way of doing this is substituting the “structures of sin” ––social structures that promote sin–– with “structures of Love” ––social structures that incarnate God’s Love in society––. That can only be done with a creativity that lives God’s charity everyday.
Actually, as a teacher I do all this literally everyday in my classroom. The growth choices that I make in my classroom are also heroic choices that place the common good first, and that also radiate God’s Love where I am, even If I never mention explicitly the word “God”.
I think that that is the proper way to teach democracy: with heroic choices that place the common good of all citizens ––of our culture and nation–– first; with heroic choices that make possible that every person can grow with dignity and human rights, even If you may be threatened to death for doing so, like Martin Luther King Jr was; with heroic choices that make possible a vision that sees a brother and a sister in everyone, even if they do not agree with your conceptions.
This is a very good question to make in any moment every day: how did I serve the common good today? How did I make possible today the growth of everyone as the best person he or she can be? How did I make possible today a society that is organized around serving the people, not the ideologies? How did I promoted human rights, justice, freedom and compassion today? How did I help to create a culture and a nation where everyone can be just, free and equal, where no one is excluded ––bereft of his or her dignity–– and where dehumanization ––systematic violations of human rights–– are not promoted, specially among government services?
To a Christian, this is very related to others very important questions: how did I lived charity today? How did I make visible God’s Love to the whole society, beginning with the poorest, the neediest and the most vulnerable?
This blog post is an answer to all those questions. All my words and works are also an heroic choice: to let everyone know that a social order that is based in the whole person’s growth is possible, and we are all called to make it possible with our service to the common good.
Let’s keep growing!