If I lived in a true democracy, I might be in the market for a new copy of Zen in the Art of Archery.
That’s because I recently lent the book to a friend so she could read it while she travelledfrom the English midlands down to London.
No, the people on the train didn’t vote she should get rid of it, but when she got home, she didn’t have the book.
Evidently she had left her bag, with my book inside, on the platform when she boarded the return train.
If you are confused, please don’t worry too much.
That’s not a bad starting point for today’s column because I am going to talk about democracy and,as the recent US presidential electiondemonstrated, that is a confusing topic.
I’ll try to be clear.
Firstly; yes, I do live in England, and no, I do not think the United Kingdom, Botswana, the USA or any other country, is a true democracy.
Most governments claim to be, but ifthey were, every single decision would be made by the voting public.
They call those votes referendums and, as you may recall, the last time the Britsheld one the public decided to leave the European Union.
Fortunately for me, no such vote took place when someone found my friend’s bag lying on a train station platform.
If it had, the choices might have been between: take the bag to lost property so it can be returned to its owner,ordispose of it in a controlled explosion in case it is as bomb.
I suspect most voters would have gone for the second option.
That’s because I believe the longer we think about things, the farther we get from our instincts and more we are influenced by fear… which would explain why political campaigns are so negative.
But then again,even if the fear were justified and the bag did contain a bomb, who would want to wait around for a referendum before getting rid of it?
So, what I am saying here is that while democracy has an extremely good name and most of us want to elect the people who run our government, not many of us would want to have to vote on every decision.
That would be a very slow process, we wouldn’t have time to do anything else, it would cost loads of moneyand it would be totally ineffective.
I mean, how many issuescan we understand well at the same time? Which brings us back to the US elections. Presidents, prime ministers, kings, chiefs and all the other people who are supposedly running governments are just people and none of them can know enough about all the issues they face to make decisions by themselves.
They all rely on advice and many decisions are made bypeople who do not need to be elected to their posts.
That may not be a true democracy, but that doesn’t mean it is bad.
The system allowed someone to act independently and return my friend’s bag and my book, and who knows, it may even allow the new US government to turn up trumps.