June 12 – What Democracy Is!

That democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people, is well known as a panacea for good governance. It is a political idea or model of government where all citizens of specified voting age have the right of equal say in the determination and policy formulation of the state through representatives that were elected in free and fair elections.

Robert Browne and his Separatist congregation stood their ground and withdrew from the Church of England during the 16th and 17th centuries because of their dissatisfaction with the ritual used in worship and with the state control of religion in England. Facing many persecutions, a Browne splinter group fled in 1606 to Leiden in The Netherlands, and emigrated ten years later to America to become part of the Pilgrims – the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and her flourishing democracy.

Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, is highly acclaimed as one of the most influential and early writers on democracy and Western philosophy. In his work, Politics, Aristotle stated: It is often supposed that there is only one kind of democracy and one of oligarchy. But this is a mistake. “We should … say that democracy is the form of government where the free are rulers, and oligarchy in which the rich; it is only an accident that the free are the many and the rich are the few…. And yet oligarchy and democracy are not sufficiently distinguished merely by these two characteristics of wealth and freedom. Both of them contain many other elements … the government is not a democracy in which the freemen, being few, rule over the many who are not free … Neither is it a democracy when the rich have the government because they exceed in number…. But the form of government is a democracy when the free, who are also poor and the majority, govern, and an oligarchy when the rich and the noble govern, they being at the same time few in number.”

While democracy seems obscured throughout the entire history of Israel and Judah, God has been democratic right from creation – giving us the freedom to make personal choices between good and evil, weighing heavily on the desires of the majority to have manna, chicken, and water in the wilderness, and heeding to the voice of the Israelites to set up their kingdom.  Ancient Greece provided the then known world with the idea of democratic representation, whereas modern democracy developed in Britain and spread through the United States, Europe and eventually many other countries of the world, maintaining in-between the feudal system and aristocracy.

The Pilgrims, on their sail to the New World, were meant to disembark on the shores of Virginia, but were blown off course to settle in Plymouth, where they had no settlement grant. As part of the bid for settlement grant on this unexpected county, the Mayflower Compact was drawn, and all adult male passengers were compelled to sign it. The covenant was an informal agreement which stipulated that government was based on consent of the governed, an important precedent for the development of American democracy that established majority rule which remained till this day as a primary principle of the government in the United States.

The Pilgrims were guided not by science, philosophy, or “enlightenment”, but rather by the Words and Commandments of a God in whom “we trust”.

God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. (Ps 82: 1 – 4).

 

These are the fundamental essence of true democracy in the plan of God, according to the Bible.

The Forefathers of American democratic republic held the view that democracy will not thrive without Biblical underpinning:

  1. Makes us subscribe to the Ten Commandments as we seek happiness either in private life or in public service. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev 22: 14).
  2. We recognize our guilt and mistakes, confess, and forsake them, and move on in life.
  3. We become spiritually minded through the power of the Holy Spirit, forbearing one another, especially despots and dictators, in our effort to transform them from dictatorship to democracy as practiced by Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other non-violent activists.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8: 6).
  4. We move ahead in life in true and dedicated service to God and humanity, bound by duty and calling, passionately doing the noble things we know to do best.

Mark Zuckerberg has been able to turn his creativity around and become wealthy with a world-known and highly rated global corporation – Facebook. The meteoric success of this young man was neither hype nor a scam. It was genuine creativity implemented and applied in a conducive environment; supportive society and appreciative community.

Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs had equally been transformed into instant millionaires and national heroes when they surprised the world in 1976 with their launch of Apple Computers. Apple Inc. is most probably the greatest corporate body on earth.

Robert Oppenhemmer was a young scholar when he headed the Manhattan Project, and developed the Atomic Bomb.

Andrew Carnegie came to America with his emigrating parents and began life in the cotton industry as a child laborer. But with vision and boundless opportunities in the New World, for those who would, he became one of the richest men ever.

Benjamin Franklin was deceived into London, but he caught his teeth in the printing trade on the streets of London, and went back to America to turn disappointments into opportunities, caught a niche for himself, and became a great American.

The list is without an end.

America is strong because she put the interest of her citizens as priority. There is always a payback according to the Golden Rule. Opportunities abound in America in cash and in kind for those who are willing to draw from the ken and improve their lot. America encourages, appreciates, and rewards creativity and ingenuity. No wonder she draws unto herself the best from all nations.

Nigerians are exceptionally intelligent and hard-working people. The country is extraordinarily well blessed with talented people and vast natural and mineral resources. Enormous wealth was made from the extraction, refining, and exportation of crude oil, but very little benefit to the masses, the glaring symptoms of an oligarchy.

President Barrack Obama, General Martin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and a long list of Federal Executive Secretaries, Senators and Congressmen, governors, state officials, mayors and other top place holders in public and private practice who are African-Americans is pointers and testimonies of the endurance of African-Americans to seek and fight for their right. The Supreme Court in March 1858 gave a landmark judgment in which Chief Justice R. B. Taney declared that the African-Americans were not citizens of the U.S. and should not derive any right from the constitution of The United States. But 150 years after this pathetic judicial denial of the black people, an African-American was elected, and later re-elected into the White House in very free and fair elections, riding on the crest of the votes of both white and colored electorates that adjudged Barack Obama credible enough to lead America, and the world.

Russia, under Vladimir Putin, is an oligarchy. China is ruled by the communist party. Cuba is a famous socialist enclave of the Castros. North Korea is the current famed example of a nation where all citizens surrender their fundamental rights to one single family, out of fear and cowardice. To make Nigeria a truly democratic republic goes beyond  parades and holidays on June 12, but rather:

  • to work very hard and make all eligible voters register to vote
  • to actually make all credible voters vote their conscience and candidates in every election within their constituencies
  • that all votes must count and be correctly counted in free and fair elections
  • prayerfully uphold the faith that God help Nigeria in her noble search for credible leadership.

This is what democracy is!!!

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