The recent events in New Delhi and the subsequent “Theek Hai” response of the Prime Minister came in for severe criticism. Not that it matters, but the build up with our Prime Minister being a mute spectator (literally) and the harassment of any person who criticised the events on social media raises the question whether or not people feel free to comment, criticise or praise matters of national importance.
The extent to which the citizen feels free to take part has to do with the political maturity and the psychological health of the nation; the extent to which people feel intimidated or mentally and psychologically abused by the political directorate.
Flowing from this is the extent to which citizens feel secure; both physically and economically as citizens or fear reprisals for what they say. People are not going to feel free to take part if they sense that their jobs are on the line.
It does not matter whether such fears are imaginary. What is important is the fact that these fears are real to the person who feels them and so they will not take part if they feel alienated or do not want to be the victim of a verbal onslaught.
It is a question of survival. Humanity is a survivor. If humanity was not a survivor the human race would have become extinct ever since. Humanity in its attempt to survive has established communities and societies. As these evolve and develop, the expectations are that the threats which previously hindered the survival of humanity would be lessened and quality of life improved.
So that democracy is an ideology insofar as it promotes man as an individual living in a community with the right to self-determination and, through participation, develop a way of life which reflects the intelligence of human beings to create a homogenous society.
The right to participate; freedom of speech; protection from arbitrary rule by the observance of the rule of law; what the society abhors and what it embraces are principles that citizens depend on to make life better and to realise their fullest potential.
We are quick to say that we live in a democratic country, but how democratic is it if you feel threatened by the very systems and devices which were established to protect the citizen?
The right of freedom of speech goes deeper than any law protecting these rights. Freedom of speech must be a political liberty empowering the citizen not to feel threatened. We have the police for protection, the law courts for justice and elections that allow people to rise up and change their governments.
While this may be so, we suffer as the result of the deficiencies in the system and especially by our lack of participation.
Everything is important and people need to feel good about themselves. The one thing that the Government should not do is to react in such a way as to seem to be going into a state of denial. We are all familiar with the way to recovery is to arrest denial and recognise that there is a problem. Once a person recognises this he then has to deal with himself; inward inspection and behaviour change. The safety of women can be no different and the powers that be need to openly admit that there are problems which cannot be fixed unless we address them squarely. It is a matter of people working with people otherwise we will be committing to something which when the time comes we will be hopeless and unable to cope as we move into more and more polarised view-points. The time is now.