You might think the headline sounds unfair. It is not the people of South Sudan or Afghanistan’s fault that their countries are in such a mess, with millions of people suffering and thousands being killed. They do not deserve that. You are of course right. However, if you look at it from a society level, and not an individual level there is a cause and effect. Hence, the word “country” in the headline, instead of “we”.
However, there are two aspects of human behaviour that has an immediate effect on the kind of leaders a country end up with.
Firstly, we humans can easily be brainwashed.
And of course even more so if you do not have access to free information, presenting different opinions. That is the main reason why the regime in North Korea has been able to survive for so long. Defectors to South Korea, still long back to the North and start crying when they hear the propaganda songs of their home country.
Germany had been a chaotic democracy for only 15 years when Hitler came to power in 1933. The propaganda that worked so well in Germany, making millions of people embracing the Nazi regime, did not work that well in other occupied countries with freedom of speech.
Still, well-educated present-day people in long-standing democracies are easily duped; and often seem to forget exercising even a minimum of critical thinking. We tend to believe politician’s totally unrealistic promises or twisted world views. Larger parts of the population are more inclined to listen to rumours on Facebook than information from the police, for instance about blocked roads during a storm.
Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all….the apathy of human beings.
Secondly, we do not care.
If you are lucky enough to live in a democracy, it might not be perfect. But you have access to a wide variety of news and information. You can express yourself (fairly) freely, and you have the right to vote in (fairly) free elections. So, how come that so many do not seem to bother? Because it is much more convenient leaving decisions to others. “Politics does not interest me”. “I do not trust politicians” or whatever the excuses are.
Instead we engage ourselves in dumbing activities: watching TV, endless browsing, shallow conversations. And leave the important stuff to others. As a result, narcissistic, self-centred, often incompetent people can run the scene. A society can never be strong if you leave big decisions to “them.”
If you try to do something you may or may not succeed. But if you do not take any action, you are guaranteed that you have no influence on the inevitable changes that will take place anyway.
We have forgotten to do our job as citizens
[David Edward Burke]
That doesn’t not mean you have to head for a political seat, or spend your time marching or organizing civil unrest. You simply have to care. It is our duties as citizens to be sufficiently informed to be able to make a thought-through decision on which candidate or party we want to vote for.
Which party resonates with your own values? Who do you trust? What legacy will he or she leave? And, so on. Instead of doing nothing but numbing yourself with reality TV or social media gossip.
Abstaining from doing anything is a very dangerous thing. Democracy and your freedom can never be dependent on a small number of politicians or powerful people. Democracy can only sustain if we are all part of building and maintaining it.
If you don’t vote and if you do not pay attention, you ‘ll get policies that don’t reflect your interest.
I already do all of that you might say.
If that is the case, the next thing would be to stop thinking “we and them”.
No one has ever changed their minds through being attacked for their opinions. The more you attack “them”, the stronger their need to defend themselves. Besides, people change their minds gradually, and only when being fed with bits of information, or through practical experience, realizing themselves without being shouted at, that they might be wrong.
When I was younger I had strong anti-EU opinions. Then I moved to Sweden and started working for a government agency, also attending meetings at the EU institutions. That made me gradually move from hostility to hesitation and now being a strong supporter. No one told me my previous opinions were wrong. It all happened because I learned more about the EU.
As long as we keep on attacking, we will continue to give room for bullies and ego trippers climbing to the top of a political ladder, who in turn, keep on yelling at each other.
The next time you want to tell somebody how wrong or stupid “they” are: instead write or say something on what you are for. Each country needs a critical mass of people with ideas and visions for how to improve their country. Being against something is very easy. Formulating what you are for and why takes a bit more effort.
But that is the best thing you can do to stop the it-is-all-about-me clique from running your country. We deserve better. We are also responsible for proving that we deserve better.