Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Democracy and Spirituality



Saint Paul in Athens by Raphael
Democracy is a form of government in which people through a vote choose representatives to govern them for defined periods, except in a few African states where a glue  appears to stick democratically elected leaders to their seats of power forever, metaphorically speaking. The precise form of democracy varies from country to country. Most have a written constitution that describes principles through which a state is governed. In many cases, though not all, democracies have produced greater welfare of people than other forms of government such as dictatorships, or monarchies.

However, democracies as exists in most countries today are not free of defects, some serious. This brief note cannot go into various advantages and defects of democratic forms of government but it may be mentioned that the biggest short comings of democracies arise from the role of money in elections and later in law making so that people often end up with laws that favor big money interests rather than them. It is as the root of much misery in the modern world ranging from wars, financial crisis to homelessness. Modern democracies have produced a huge number of slick smooth talking politicians who say the right thing for votes and go on to do the wrong thing to line their pockets and secure a seat of power for their dirty bums. The greater the level of hypocrisy the more successful the politician.

Our life is pushed in directions that are the source of our focus. It is because of this that Saints advice that we most focus on good and good humans and try to draw our mind away from any evil that exists in others, leaving the universe to deal with it, for the most part. However, democratic elections are not like that. A contest between opposing candidates leads to focusing on the weaknesses and evil if any in opponents and shouting about it over the roof tops. This involves all of the adult population of a nation and as per spiritual understanding this may lead to compromising not just the character of a nation as a whole but the very soul that dwells within. However such a sling fest appears unavoidable in modern forms of democracies because for a nation to thrive it is essential that democratic elections pick up those with good moral character and exposes to throw out those with poor one, because as said in an ancient highly revered spiritual work from South Asia,


Original and future possibilities for democracies

Democracy today arose from the ancient Athens idea of democracy. We know that Athenians had created a highly evolved form of human civilization. However they had avoided the problem of money interests as well as character assassinations when they chose their representatives by choosing their representatives for brief periods, simply at random, from names thrown in a pot and picked up as lottery numbers. In modern times a set of hundred or five hundred names can similarly be picked up from all  interested citizens through a computer or even better a combination of both, a computer for a short list of a few thousand and then a manual process like the lotto so that none could say the selection was rigged by a computer. Perhaps a minimum age limit of 30 or 40 may be set for representatives after further debate. Some countries may wish to add a minimum qualification of a high school pass so that deliberations are literate by all members. A brief educational course may be organized for chosen persons to familiarize them with procedures. This will take governments out of hands of greedy pigs, wheeler-dealers and glib talkers who have perfected the art of saying the right thing for votes and doing the wrong  thing to line their pockets. Just as rapists are attracted to where beautiful women live, robbers and criminals attracted to where  treasure is stored, often the worst of society is attracted to where power and money lie. It is not surprising therefore that many such end up as representatives of people in modern democracies.

The feeling of this author is that this last proposal similar to the original Greek democracy would lead to a sounder and better House of Commons or representatives than exist today. However, there would be a limitation in such a congress. The majority can often run rough shod over interests of a minorities and this house would tend to do that. Further more educated and evolved levels of government are required to prevent that or any other decision that may be taken due to a temporary emotional upsurge, something similar to an upper house of parliament.

An upper house of parliament can similarly be picked up by random selection, say hundred persons from a list of the thousand most educated persons in a nation. The most educated are defined as a thousand with the highest educational degrees held for the longest periods since graduation. This thousand would change by the time the next election comes around. It would change rapidly, if an upper age limit of say 75 years were set for lawmakers and this upper house would consist of experienced older highly educated persons and intellectuals of the nation, certainly a wiser selection than the present House of Lords of UK.

Random selections of upper house and lower house in such a democracy will make it highly unlikely for lawmakers to win a second term and thus chances of getting corrupted by power will be far less than lawmakers who hang on for decades. it shall truly be a representative government. Some financial incentive and awards may be instituted for law makers that perform well based on a public poll at the end of term

Prime Minister and President

The question some ask is in such a party less system how shall a Prime Minister and President be chosen. An existence of political parties is not necessary for democracies to function and may in fact be detrimental. Such leaders can be chosen in the lower house and upper house respectively by a majority vote. Successive rounds of voting would be required if there are several nominees to discover the popular choice. Once appointed such leaders may be changed only by a constructive no-confidence vote i.e. where a new replacement is simultaneously voted on. Votes on legislation would be based on the conscience of each member and not by party considerations.

Conclusion

At every stage of development humans think they have reached the highest possible stage of development in the universe, whether it is with economic models such as capitalism or communism, models of governance, medicine, spiritual knowledge, science or what have you. Ignorant humans push the idea further. The truth is that the universe is infinite and evolution through it infinite. Humans shall continue to evolve; periodically falling every time they attain a degree of progress and prosperity because then greed shall raise its ugly head. Nothing blinds humans more than an upsurge of greed, lust and anger leading them to their downfall.

SHORT TERM FIXES

However such a spiritually inspired democracy may take a long time to get established. In the meantime is there anything that humans can do to improve their lot? Yes the following image suggests it:



There are some other simple fixes that can help ease the corrupting role of money in politics over the short term without any major changes to existing models. Two of these are,

  1. Those with excessive wealth such as the top 1% may not be allowed to contest in elections, they or their families. An independent authority would be needed to ascertain this and qualify eligible candidates
  2. In order to eliminate the corrupting role of power, a strict two term limit for all politicians may be prescribed not just the President.
 

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