Just yesterday I waxed lyrical about John F. Kennedy. To my utter astonishment a young lady in her mid twenties ask, “Who’s he?” Faced with that, I am a little concerned that any mention of Abe Lincoln may likely have those younger folk racing for Google, but I’ll chance it anyway.
Abe you see, was a wise old coot, he coined some magical quotes not the least of which was, “ You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Great phrasing, almost Cicero like, in fact it contains the classic Greek tricolon – three phrase which make an almost perfect syntax.
Sadly, it is confused by many community groups to aid their great misunderstanding of the community’s place in a democracy.
Recently, local government elections were held. This is a time when a community sees the very best of our ‘groups with a beef’. Minority groups, who can’t get their own way and lean on a so called ‘Democracy’ platform in the hope they can convince enough people that it’s not democratic if it doesn’t match their cause. You know the usual, “Elect someone who listens to the community” or “Let’s have representatives who will act for the people” which is a kind of shorthand for, “Let’s vote in someone who does what we want to do and to hell with the rest.”
Men, such as Cicero, Lincoln and Kennedy, were not only great orators, they were also fearless protectors of democracy because they knew that a community cannot peacefully exist without democracy. Communities must breed an atmosphere of pluralism – the belief in the existence of more than one opinion!
We must all accept that others have opinions and they all matter. Tolerance is in danger today, in our larger world space, fundamentalism has become associated with sincerity. “I believe sincerely etc.” But what happens if we are sincerely wrong ?
No matter what religion, politics, education, rules, regulations, laws, we can be passionate about our beliefs but we as communities must embrace pluralism. We must respect others, be tolerant of opinions and most of all we must speak quietly and firmly.
I love my community, however I understand they may not appreciate or share my views. I have adopted a well worn phrase as a community mantra – ‘if we were all the same, only one of us would be necessary!’ And so it is with great hope for my children’s children and the world from now, that we as communities, adopt the tolerance needed to embrace each others ideas, learn to accept the opinion of others and discover what we can learn from each other.
We need look no further than the words of the past, those of the Declaration of American Independence which said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Until we take these words to our hearts we can never be a complete community.