What democracy has already delivered to us in contemporary Canada, and in the world itself, is nothing short of remarkable. And it has existed for only about one percent of the time homo sapiens has been known to inhabit the earth. Simply put, the democracy we ourselves have always known is really still in its infancy!
Already, not only are human rights and the dignity of every life enshrined in our constitution, but also the spectrum of direct services contributing to all dimensions of our daily living is almost limitless. Democracy’s vision, translated into effective actions to name just a few include: food inspection, building codes, landfill sites, ambulances, blue boxes, boating safety, veterans’ affairs, old age security, child welfare, libraries, museums, sewers, roads, bridges, health care, education, conservation areas, correctional facilities, fire and police protection, judicial systems, local provincial and national systems of accountable governments…and the list goes on, almost infinitely. Let us not take them for granted.
Specific research on those elected to office at the federal level show them to be very much “us”. They are much more human than some kind of alien force sent to continuously disrupt our lives! Average age when first elected is 47, and the single thing most common to them all was engagement in community activities, five or more on average. They truly cared about the communities who chose them to be their voice. And their backgrounds prior to election have been tremendously diverse: air traffic controller, radio station manager, accountant, nurse, journalist, cook, farmer, minister, priest, mayor, quality assurance engineer, educator, lawyer, single and divorced parents…and this list too, goes on. And once elected, the pressures they actually face from countless sources are immeasurable.
Let us remember that at the very core of democracy, of course, is its greatest strength and greatest frustration: the genuine acceptance of differences. Inevitably, the outcome of this great vision is controversy, confrontation, cumbersome process, and much, much compromise…achieved peacefully. And while the less savoury side of our human nature can surface during any controversy, we owe it to ourselves to respect those human beings who have accepted the challenge of making democracy work for us. The visions of democracy and the frustrations of its political process can sometimes seem to fall short, but never let us take them for granted. As a respected journalist in the previous century once said, “Too many people expect wonders from democracy, when the most wonderful thing of all is just having it”.