Democracy is more than voting. It a system of values, synonymous with social equality and justice. We vote knowing that our vote counts as much as the votes of any others. Injustice cannot survive in a true democracy.
Democracies are measured by the balance of freedom and responsibility. In the ideal democracy, the freedom of any individual never exceeds the responsibility of that individual, for if it did, another’s freedom may suffer.
Democracy is not popularity. In 1930’s Germany, and all around the world, hatred of Jews was popular. That does not make it democratic or justified.
Democracy is not when a majority dominates over a minority. That is the mentality of a mob. Just as we want others to uphold our rights when we are weak, we must uphold the rights of all when we are strong. There are no factions in the ideal democracy–only peaceful disagreements on the best course of action for all.
“Popularity” and “majority” must be considered beyond the confines of time. Political trends come and go, and we should remember that we will be judged by future generations that will have the values of our youth, who will live with the consequences of the decisions we make today.
The bill of our failures must be paid, and it is our duty, as people that have been blessed with relative privilege and comfort, to ensure that we do not leave the next generation with a debt they cannot possibly afford to bear.
If we error on the side of caution, and do more than what is necessary to protect the democratic, social, and living systems that sustain us, our grandchildren will thank us. If we and do less than what our children required of us, our grandchildren may not survive to curse our greed, apathy, and indecision.
The last great human rights struggle has just begun to secure the rights of generations to come. Runaway global warming is the single greatest threat to human civilization–even more so than nuclear weapons–since we launched the destructive force of greenhouse gases long ago. If we do not take immediate action to prevent the further erosion of the democratic values that protect us from popular short-term self-interest, civilization, as we define it, may not survive to see the 22nd century.
We are the keepers of our democracy. We are the mothers and fathers of the world our children will inherit. Let us not raise a society of orphans.