by Lorenzo A Davids
Democracy is not a political system. It is a set of healthy, human and planet affirming values, unambiguously expressed through a set of behaviours that becomes the framework of the democratic political system.
The opposite of democracy is not Communism. It is ambivalence and ambiguity. Such ambivalence and ambiguity undermine democracy.
Democracy is deepened over time by the healthy, human and planet affirming behaviours and values of its servants. These values and behaviours, called democracy, become the framework for good government.
In the same way, it is undone by unhealthy, partisan and corrupted values and behaviours. Ambivalence and ambiguity become, over time, the framework for a failed state. The inability to provide clarity on values and behaviours that serve the public good and dabbling in ambivalence and ambiguity leads a country to anarchy.
On Monday, December 14, the President of South Africa announced that some Covid-19 hotspots would be under lockdown. This included the popular Garden Route. As infection rates began to spike, the president announced on Monday. December 28, that South Africa was being placed on level 3 lockdown.
The mayhem that followed the December 14 announcements reached a crescendo with the December 28 announcement. The over-full hospitals, the lack of oxygen supplies, the collapse of tourism businesses, the bankruptcies that were now unavoidable and the sheer lack of compliance by the public made it clear that something is wrong within our governance frameworks.
We sadly saw our democracy becoming one of ambivalence and ambiguity bordering on anarchy, instead of one which upholds a framework based on healthy, human and planet affirming values, unambiguously expressed through a set of community-beneficial behaviours.
Drunk police, partying adults, endless court challenges of life-saving rules, unclear gazetted policies, bankrupt businesses and government’s slow response to securing an early vaccine are the acts which constitute the slow march to the politics of ambiguity and ambivalence.
In the shadows of such ambiguous ambivalence, the anarchists are born. They who recognise the absence of healthy, human and planet affirming values, unambiguously expressed through a body of behaviours, will rise to exploit our failure to uphold the democratic framework with clear planet and human affirming values.
Every attempt at advancing a values-based democracy that affirms our collective existence on this planet will be torn apart by those who want their own freedom and life of plenty at the expense of millions staying put in poverty gulags, low paying jobs and overfull taxis.
Who will lead us in 2021? Who will carry the calabash of healthy, human and planet affirming values, unambiguously expressed through a set of behaviours into the centre of our collective town square?
Who will rise to ensure that that dying edifice of party political triumphalism makes way for a new collectivist movement of citizens, bound not by culture, economics, or blue and green flags, but by the values of a human and planet affirming set of behaviours?
Populist rhetoric can only be destroyed by embracing values and behaviours that affirms all humans and protects the planet.
The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in The Social Contract in 1762 that: “The social pact, far from destroying natural equality, substitutes, on the contrary, a moral and lawful equality for whatever physical inequality that nature may have imposed on mankind; so that however unequal in strength and intelligence, men become equal by covenant and by right.”
My wish for South Africa is that in 2021, whatever inequalities nature might have imposed on us as citizens, we will become equal by values, covenant, behaviour and ultimately, by right.
We have had enough of rhetoric that are blatantly dishonest, anti-democratic, self-preserving, selfish and opposed to preserving the planet and the inherent value of all people.
Who will rise to show us a better way? Who will lead us in a human, caring, values-based, planet-preserving way? A society flourishes if such leaders lead them. The anarchist are waiting in the shadows.
* Lorenzo A Davids is chief executive of the Community Chest.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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