Reflections of a Rebel – Love & Rage
“Tell me what democracy looks like!”, she shouted over the megaphone as we were marching. A nasty question. For most it means going to the ballots every four years and electing government officials to represent them. For me it is the fig leaf that covers the transgressions of our times: the corruption of those politicians, the injustice of a system that perpetuates inequality and the extractive economy which blindly exploits both the people and the planet. And so whenever I hear that nasty word I am filled with cynicism and disdain.
“It’s not perfect but it’s better than all the other systems of governance”, people say, unknowingly paraphrasing Winston Churchill. And perhaps it is… but then what? Does it imply that we just have to accept it for what it is and remain comfortably numb? To paraphrase Walter Wink, an American biblical scholar, theologian, and activist:
Democracy is good
Democracy has fallen
Democracy must be redeemed
“But how?”, I ask, feeling powerless in my small cocoon. They obliterated everything but the individual. No unions, no communities, not even society if you ask Ms. Thatcher. All that is left is a big black hole of “me, myself, and I”, and if I’m very angry about McDonalds then I can stop eating there, or stop eating meat altogether, as if that’s going to facilitate the necessary systemic change.
“This is what democracy looks like!”, the rebels answered. This? What is this? And then I looked around me and I saw people, colourful people, some were old and others very young, some were smiling and others dead serious, some were chanting and others silent. But they were all alive and they were all driven by conviction. And they showed me what real democracy looks like, not as a concept but as a living truth.
“Hey ho, take me by the hand”, she chanted over the megaphone, much softer this time, “strong in solidarity we stand”. And then we took each other’s hands and we marched on.