Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Red Shirts and Democracy

The Thai Red Shirts are not giving in and according to an interview this morning, many are prepared to die for the right to vote, for democracy. We have seen similar situations in Burma and with the Uygur in the last year or so. If you want to look back even over the past 20 years, the list gets long very quickly.

Added to that the collective "we" of the US, Europe, Australia and a myriad of other countries have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to bring "freedom and democracy" to the citizens of these countries. Hundred of thousands of the troops, and perhaps more importantly, civilians have died in the process.

I am not in favor of the wars (Bush, Howard and Blair should be tried as war criminals) but all were re-elected by their people do I know I am in a minority with that view. And I am not taking sides with the Red Shirts or the Thai government. Nor am I promoting one political party over another.

What continues to astound me is that people are willing to die for the right to vote, for democracy, or for allowing others to have that right. And yet in the complacent West, so many do not vote at all. Okay the turn out for the last US election was up, same too for the UK but it is still pitiful. Australia is still compulsory for state and federal elections so our figures are always really high but if you take the number that turn up for local elections you can see the real apathy that exists within the populace.

How can people not vote when at some point they are affected by education, or roads, or tax, or welfare, or health, or whatever. Surely people have an opinion on at least some issues like equality for all, law and order, abortion, capital punishment, the environment ... well the list goes on. How can we be so complacent as to not take part in the process that determines how our communities will be formed. And how different would the their attitudes be if the option to be apathetic was taken away, they had no democracy - no voice, no choice.

It has continually astounded me that while some will die for the right to vote, so many who have it, take it for granted and abuse the privilege by not using it.

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