I have always belonged to those that believe majorities can be wrong. Terribly wrong. Democracy is just a mirror and it is a harsh one. Democracy has no ethics; it gives people what they deserve and often legitimizes evil choices that devastate minorities. Good democracy, the kind we revere, is dependent on knowledge, education, acceptance, openness. Otherwise it is just a euphemism, a concept devoid of the noble qualities associated with it. History, worldwide, has repeatedly validated this view. No need to go far or list many examples. Just remembering Hitler, will do.
The reasons democracies go adrift are not always easy to decipher. Different times demand different explanations. Many say voters are stupid. Indeed, some are, but most are not. In my view, what we are dealing with here is an accelerating social and technological divide between those that can follow the rapid advances of our modern age and those that cannot. In the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s the next big things were the TV, the microwave, the CDs, the personal computer. All easily accommodated, understood, and integrated within the context of daily life. Now we are talking about stem cell research, big data, artificial intelligence and the God particle. In past decades, people were content growing, working, living and dying in their small communities. Today, just reading the previous sentence emits misery. We are encouraged to travel as much as possible, learn continuously, adapt constantly. Social norms are transforming, diversity is increasing, technology is exploding. The warmth of the familiar is fading. Societies historically embraced progress and cheered for the new. This time, perhaps, not so much. Never before in human history had the oneness of this world seemed so attainable, yet so evasive.
Our stance against the ever growing change is varied. The circumstances of some people, whether these are geographical, economic, or social, encourage them to dive into the ocean, to ride its waves and explore it. It may be frightening, terrifying occasionally, but it is also magical and liberating. It requires an opening of the mind that cannot be realized unless you force yourself to dive deeper and go further. Unless you welcome change and accept it as one of the fundamental driving forces in your life. But other people stay in the mud. By choice or luck, they end up there. They grow to become afraid of the ocean. In the mud they feel protected, they feel safe. They think they like it there. And they vote for it. They vote for the mud.
Every few decades, the fields of mud grow so large that threaten to overcome the ocean. And then a big storm is needed to wash out the mud and restore the balance. We are entering such an era. Maybe those of us out in the ocean have been swimming too far for too long and it is time to take a peek back at the shores again. Or maybe the people in the mud are to blame. One thing is sure though. Unless we make our journey in the ocean safer and more welcoming, unless we help our fellow citizens to swim, then the storm is upon us. It may clear the mud, but it will also drown most of us.