Psychological preparation for democracy: Is the Middle East ready?
With the series of event unfolding in the Middle East, the question would be if, at this era, the Middle Eastern people can accomplish a healthy and liberated society? If we consider what Alexander Tytler (1747-1813) who was a Scottish-born English lawyer and historian said, he reported that democracy has stages and works like a cycle. As history shows, most of all the word's great civilizations have lasted for about 200 years and they have followed these sequences. These sequences are from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back to bondage.
Some may argue that U.S. has had its own share of this cycle starting in 1620 where the Pilgrims sailed to America. They did so because they wanted to escape from the religious repression that was forced through the Church of England and this was the beginning of the journey from bondage to spiritual faith and great courage. Then came another stage which was during the revolutionary war in which the colonists moved from courage to liberty. Then during 1970's and afterward, in which US started borrowing money through the sale of bonds to China, American factory production was shipped overseas along with some American jobs, and America was shifting from abundance to complacency in which production was replaced by borrowing and printing money to maintain our standers of living.
In 2010, unemployment increased to double-digits and many people lost their homes moving from apathy to dependence. There are millions of Americans that are dependent on the government to take care of their needs and it seems like we are moving from dependence back to bondage.
Now going back to the Middle East, we have been witnessing a series of events unfolding in the Middle East, and the question on our mind is, are the Middle Eastern people ready for a real sense of democracy rather than an imitation and superficial form of it?
The real definition of democracy in a healthy system consists of a fundamental belief in helping each other, providing support, admitting mistakes, understanding interrelatedness, healing corruption and bribery, working for a common good for all, respecting each other's independence, increased understanding of differences, identifying clear boundaries and respecting them, encouraging (not imposing) self actualization, making each member feel a sense of power and connectivity, honesty, and freedom of expression with respect. This requires organization and negotiating skills when it comes to differences and being able to make compromises.
In addition, it involves the ability to reach a form of closure that is effective for all parties involved, and in a healthy system it is understood that it is not going to be ideal for one group while diminishing for another and that all subsystems needs must be considered. In a well functioning society that is preparing the ground for a true democracy, communicating truthfully is the key and compromises need to be made. Truth is accepted by the parties and is not viewed as an absolute but a process. And last but not least, different perspectives of reality are accepted and a midpoint of understanding is taken into consideration and set as a goal.
The overall definition of democracy is rooted in the fact that it has to be earned. No nation can have a sense of entitlement to it without taking the right steps to gain and maintain it's liberty and abundance. It takes effort, knowledge, and determination. Also, if a nation is not ready for democracy, imposing it can be counter-productive. Democracy is not living a boundless life where everyone can do whatever s/he wishes to without consideration for the society or the rights of others. True democracy has laws and rules to prevent violating the society's and other individual's rights that need to be respected by all. Society has a right too. Society holds individuals and they have to learn to contribute to its well being. They have to learn to do what is right for the society as a whole and make compromises. Only then they can build the foundation of a healthy society that can bring them prosperity. If a nation is demanding from its society but is not taking the necessary steps to help that society, it won't go anywhere.
For any country to be able to function from a democratic place of leadership and maintains a sense of stability, they have to start a form of social and economic equal opportunity, religious and racial tolerance, and the ability to self-criticize and make progress. Any society that wants to plant the seed of democracy has to get rid of tribalism, traditionalism, authoritarian behavior, and fundamentalism. Education and self-awareness should be encouraged and planted everywhere, and there has to be a wide variety of exchange, including cultural and academic, with other nations. Coexistence is a great way to learn about having a democratic nation, we can learn what to do and what not to do. The key element here is an awareness that it may take considerable time to build this foundation and patience is vital. A root-oriented and rational approach may take longer but brings more positive results than an impulsive and superficial one.
The world is going through a change -- we are evolving at a faster speed. With technology, we can now see and connect to the other side of the globe in an instant with one click, and we feel a sense of compassion from across the world for people we have never met. Technology and science are helping us understand how we are interconnected. We are seeing more and more that if we don't do something, on a collective level, about the global tensions that exist today; that the world as we know it may change dramatically. We are also seeing that if we don't put our different visions of how life "should" be including our religious believes that we are in for a chaos. We need to look at our surrounding and the world with an open eye to be able to learn from other people's mistakes as well as their positive side. Observation can teach us a great deal of what to do as well as what not to do.
At the end, awareness that there are stages to democracy that need to be followed is important. Just like we gained it here in the US through a series of actions and need to constantly work to maintain it; other people can gain it too but there is work that needs to be done. An artificial sense of democracy can backfire but with education and awareness the right seed can be planted. It is a crucial time for the Middle Easterners to find a common goal on a collective level and to make sure groups with hidden agendas, whether religious or else, are not going to take advantage of them and are not to bring them another authoritarian government. Middle Easterners will soon get to a set point of deciding what they want to do and how they want to replace their leaders. The choices that they are going to make will determine their destiny and their place in this world.