‘Democracy’ : What’s the hype around it?

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor”. 1 Peter 2 :16-17.

“In a democracy the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

‘Democracy’, our modern world is shaped by this ancient Greek idea, but with its own twists and tales. First of all what made me write this ? it’s certainly because the world needs it, but more importantly to analyze how a person who believes in ‘Christocracy’ can still value it, and the reason to stand for it. Especially how both Christocray ( I define it personally as the consummation of very rule of Christ on this earth, the consolidation of all earthly powers in his hand, where all are truly free, the reign which is to come), and Democracy which is working together in a subtle way now will become more evident in the future.

We live in a very advanced world, we have come a long way. If we as humans do really have a bit of positive feeling about all the mordern day achievements with all its subordinate chaos, we should certainly give a certain amount of credit to this idea called ‘democracy’. Democratization of the world is one of the biggest aspirations the world has indulged itself in. Democracy is such a strong idea, because it originates from the human spirit, which has the strong desire for freedom, the freedom to choose. The choice to decide who to rule over them.

Britanica expositions Democracy this way,

“Democracy, literally, rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratia, which was coined from dēmos (“people”) and kratos (“rule or power”) in the middle of the 5th century BCE to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens.

One of my favourite leaders Abraham Lincoln quotes democracy as this,

“In a democracy the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

Over the years Democracy had been manipulated, misused misrepresented and misinterpreted. It has in many places have become ‘of the powerful, by the powerful, and for the powerful’. Nevertheless, the need for democracy have always become much clearer than ever, with all its flaws, it had been the more practical human institution that have formulated the inclusion of more people to unite across their differences to determine their destiny. It had certainly contributed to the freedom and aspirations of many. I want to put it in a funnier way ‘It makes people take responsibility over their own decisions’. I would say Democracy is a mirage, good mirage. Its there, but when we close in we see that it’s actually not there and is again visible at a much longer distance. Democracy has elasticity, it extends as much as people wants to stretch it to fit them.

Politics and Democracy:

When we talk about democracy we cannot leave out the other important word ‘Politics’. Politics is vital to any democracy, it had been the heartbeat of democracies around the world, miriam-webster observes politics as this,

“the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government”

“Competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)”

The power consolidation in the history for centuries depended on wars. Tribes, kingdoms and Empires set out to consolidate their power to rule over people through their military strategies. Then trade and philosophy played a major role in influencing a region. But the next big power consolidation happened through politics. Political discourse in a democracy is the pathway to power, the discourse generally circles around identity, policy, ideology and special interests. Identity of language, culture, religion, ethnicity, race and political affliations have shaped democracy for centuries. The internal and external challenges to a nation have contributed to the strengthening or weakening of a democracy. So the power consolidation through political engagement have always rested on consensus building and forming a majoritarian opinion. The problem always been to democracy is that most of the times that majoritarian opinion is not formed on truths or facts but on feelings and emotions. It was formed mostly on identity rather than on standards, values and policies. There is no controlled measure in a democracy to consensus building or forming a majoritarian opinion, and that’s where the weakness or the strength of a democracy lies. The rule of law comes to an extent, but it cannot entirely influence since it can lead to weakening a democracy. A good democracy requires informed people who has the ability seek the truth, and transformed people who are able to stand for the truth. It is in this space free press, welfare organizations and political parties come in to make the people informed by laying out perspectives.

The Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights. Yet, I would say democracy is much more than that, it is culmination of human spirit that desires better life and opportunities for all its people. The need differs from people to people and region to region, but the goal is the same, which is to make all lives better.

Rule of people Vs Rule of Law :

The origins of a democracy always lies in Autocracy. It can be a controversial statement, because as much as democracy is about gaining power by the help of people, it is also giving up the power as ordered by the same people. Here I talk about the origins of a democracy, because it just didn’t burst in to the scene in a day, it had to come through a lineage of Autocracy and autocratic systems either inspired by a Global change or through people’s demand and its imprints and impacts are seen in a democracy. The power lies somewhere on the top and it has to be distributed fairly in a democracy. Every world democracy had been the foster child of an autocratic legacy. When I say Autocracy it can be a person, a group, a monarch, a philosophical front or a system. Democracy begins when those in power is willing to give up the power, if they don’t it ends a democracy most of the times.

In a democracy (generally across the world there is a representative democracy) the rule of Law was given and the people’s representatives have the power to alter the course of the Law or even the Law. There is always a tension between the rule of the Law and the rule of the People. Law is to govern the people, the constitution is supreme and it demands accountability, and the judiciary is the protector of the constitution, and the elected legislative must uphold it. The Law shapes the conscience of the people towards an higher standard and also develop a collective consciousness, and in a democracy the people has the power to alter the Law through their representatives based on the need. So the consciousness of people too can shape the Law.

I want to explain it through the game of Cricket. Cricket has two teams like many sport playing against each other. There would be three umpires, the refree is the final decision maker, he is like the rule of Law or Judiciary or a supreme court. The two teams are two parties representing their two sets of audiences, both were trying to win but have to play according to the rule of the game. The rule gives meaning and common standard to the game. If there is an appeal, the refree takes the call. If the players find certain rule being not fair to them, they appeal to the conscience of the refree to make necessary changes.

Rights in a Democracy:

‘Rights’ are like life to any democracy, the rights of people is sacred and supreme in a democracy, it validates the power vested upon people and the rule of people. There are fundamental rights which holds a democracy together, and there are other subordinate rights which keeps the democracy effective. Every section has their demands and rights, but it must appeal to conscience of the constitution, legislative and the judiciary. If any institutions of democracy unjustly denies the rights of an individual or a section, then it gives alarm bells to a failing democracy. Especially the rights of the weakest, marginalized and the afflicted is important in upholding a democracy.

Recently the treatment of Fr. Stanswamy have revealed the condition of democracy in India, the powerful voice of the very least in our society was subjected to unfair treatment,

Fr. Stanlisaus Lourdeswamy, a Jesuit priest and missionary to the tribals of Jharkand. Wikipedia observes him to be the oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India. At the age of 84, on July 5th 2021, the Jesuit priest noted for his activism for the rights of the Adivasis, surviving Parkinson’s and Covid together, succumbed to ill health under judicial custody. In October 2018 he was arrested under UAPA act by the NIA, citing involvement in the Bhima Koregoan violence.

Democracy truly works when every section of the society is included in the process of nation building and building a better future of all it’s people. But when we cut off the strings and disengage the voices who connects the most marginalized to be accessible to their God given dignity, we are losing a battle without even fighting. The powerful must use their power to protect and empower those who are without any access to their basic rights, I think that’s where the mission of Democracy lies. There are many unresolved issues in world democracies pertaining to rights, that becomes grievences and many are fighting it politically, legally and through activism for the rights.

Electoral Systems:

There are huge questions recently about the electoral mishaps in many democratic countries across the world, which is certainly a concern because free and fair elections are the foundations of a democracy. The people have rights to vote and select it’s government. There is a time period to govern and a time to elect a new government based on the performance and need. It is the power vested on people to hold the powerful accountable, and political parties and leaders put their best case forward for their people to elect them. Strengthening democratic institutions like that of Election bodies is pivotal to the effective functioning of a democracy. Eventhough elections are the bedrock for a democracy, it is also influenced by people’s everyday choices and responsibilities.

The Role of Military in a Democracy:

Its just astonishing to many, especially to many progressive minds to know the role of weapons and military to protect a democracy, yet we cannot deny the importance of safeguarding the rights of its people from external threats through an organized military. Democracy thrives and flourishes through dialogue and respect to build bridges and solve the conflicts with others and also other nations, but the lust for power and a desire for disorder have forced even the matured democracies to rely upon heavy weapons to make sure they guard their sovereignty as well as their democracy.

Democracy and Secularism:

Democracy generally works well with secularism. The state without being associated officially to any particular religion can give so much security and protection to people from multiple beliefs and faiths. It also promotes religious freedom in many ways. The church and the state debate is a deep one, because many democracies which has a majority of its people from a particular faith has the dilemma to conclude, whether the state can function without its association to a particular faith. Especially in Europe, but the consequences of many mishaps in the past makes them think if it’s a necessity. Secularism or not, every democracy must ensure total religious freedom within the merits of the Law, and protect the rights of every group. This builds trusts in a democracy. In countries where the Church and the state seperation is very sensitive because of its tradition and necessity. It becomes more important for that nation to build the space of trust and goodwill towards other communities and protect their rights legally.

Its a Holy duty of the church to value democracy, and the democratic duty of the state to uphold the values of Christ in its public life!

Governance: Facilitating service

Democracy works when everybody works. It is not just the responsibility of the pillars of democracy, but every single person for whom those pillars were raised. People can live without a democratic government, but they may not participate in the Governance. Democracy invites everybody to participate in the governance of a nation or a country. It must work at all levels. The role of governments in a democracy is not just to be authoritative but to become facilitative. Effective governance must lead to erasing out divides and enhancing reconciliation between communities. It must be there to bridge inequalities by channeling resources to the needs. It must be there to make people’s lives better by providing better opportunities. Service to people must be the core value of any democracy.

The Biblical View: Free will, the seed of democracy?

Democracy as an idea can be traced back to Greece, but it’s seeds can be found at the Garden of Eden. Though the Law was in place through the word of God’s command, God had given the first man free will to choose, to make a decision. This right to choose extends itself in human spirit to desire a human institution of Governance where people make their choices. We can see all through the scriptures that God warning the people with consequences about their choices, yet upholding the free will that he gave them the right to choose whether good or bad. Democracy is basically, a right of choice, which people exercise to give power. God gave mankind authority to have dominion, eventhough he is Lord over all he has not taken away that right from him until an appointed time, he looks at the world and all the choices people make whether which pleases him or displeases him, he appeals through the Gospel of his son, and puts his best case forward for people to follow him. And also many times he uses his presidential authority to change things, to recourse the world towards the direction of truth. In any democracy the goal is truth. Nothing motivates a democracy than a real and raw truth.

To the community of Israel, the chosen people, God was their Lord and King, but God also raised leaders to lead them. Yet, the God chosen leaders were also acknowledged by the majority of the community, as he did signs and wonders through them. We can see Moses, Aaron and Joshua, eventhough God chose them, people also acknowledged it.

“But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.” Deuteronomy 1:12&13.

We can see Moses handing over the responsibility to choose their leaders by themselves. In the case of David eventhough he was anointed by Prophet. Samuel, he was made King through the consensus with the twelve tribes of Israel (2 Samuel 5). So even in such a theocratic era, there was room for consensus building among the community of Israel. Even God’s plan was denied in two places when the majoritarian opinion was against the will of God when they chose to disobey. When they were about to enter the land of Canaan two tribes agreed to enter, but the other ten were not willing. In the other case, the children of Israel demanded a King like other Nations.

Peace and Freedom:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. 2 Corinthians 3:17.

The objective of any democracy is peace and freedom based on the truth. When Jesus was on earth, he exhibited the values that constitutes and strengthens the democracy. He helped the poor and the needy, he healed the sick, he spoke for the rights of the marginalized, women and the poor. He gave his voice to justice and truth. He spoke of freedom and liberty, but he also died under the law. I just want to mention two significant events in the life of Jesus.

First, is the moment he was baptized and began his ministry, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon him in the form of a dove. And a voice appeared and said ‘This is my beloved son in whom I’m well pleased’ (Matthew 3:13-17).

Now, why the spirit of God should come in the form of a dove. Just think about all the images across the world where dove is predominantly used. Either it is used to denote freedom, or to denote peace. Democracy stands for both peace and freedom, if there is no peace and freedom democracy cannot function properly. Again, the dove rested on Jesus, who is the truth. So peace and freedom is possible when it rests on truth.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..” Luke 4:18.

The mission of the Spirit of God and the spirit of the Gospel has values of democracy embeded in it. This is what democracy stands for, but democracy can contribute to it, it is Christocracy or the spirit of Christ which can bring in real peace and freedom and transform the world. But democracy is certainly an aspect in Christocracy. It is the reason, eventhough it is termed as a ‘Greek Idea’, wherever the Gospel is preached and accepted there democracy has been established. There are many nations where there is no visible democracy, the spirit of God had brought peace and freedom in Christ in the hearts of people, though they cannot openly celebrate religious festivals or gather together for worship.

A democracy dies if it doesn’t value truth, Jesus Christ is the absolute truth, but there are other truth’s that is coherent with the Gospel embeded in the values of democracy. Many times people don’t accept the truth, because they have already decided what they want, they cling on to what’s comfortable. Seeking the truth is fundamental for an healthy democracy, and also accepting even when its difficult strengthens a democracy. In every human being is in built the need for freedom and peace, especially the curiosity to seek the truth. Democracy gives space for everyone to journey towards it.

Second, when Jesus was crucified to death. Is Jesus a victim of absence of religious freedom, yes, but he was willing to give himself to the truth. He was on a mission to set all men free. But I’m going to tell how he allowed the will of the people who cried crucify, crucify. He fell to a majoritarian opinion, but in the absence of truth. The death of democracy too happens when there is an overwhelming majoritarian consensus, but still an absence of truth. It is the reason why in a democracy majority and minority can be used to do welfare, but not defining the truth, I would say,

“Majority should not be defined by its numbers, so is “Minority”.” Majority” should be defined by where truth is, where good is , where love is and where Justice is. “Minority” should be defined by where lies are, where Evil is , where hate lives and where injustice thrives.”

In safeguarding democracy its important for truth to stand, even if it has to stands alone. Pontius Pilate, knowing the truth bypassed it, the rule of the law was used for selfish reasons and not to uphold the truth. So, if we keep bypassing the truth, then freedom and peace would become a bygone reality. Democracy fails without freedom and peace because of the lack of truth. Jesus will never fail, even if democracy does, because he is the truth, and the prince of peace, its the reason why he sets all men free. When human spirit fails, his spirit will give the strength and stand through the test, his spirit will give life to every human endeavor to make people lives better, which includes democracy. Christocracy will cover democracy, and democracy will pave way to Christocracy in the end. Where there is total peace and freedom.

The Apostolic Explosion:

In the midst of persecution and lack o religious liberty, the Apostles prayed, preached, worshipped and communed. The courage and boldness through which they preached was from the spirit they received. They opened up free spaces everywhere through their Gospel. The Gospel is the torch bearer of democracy across the world. Wherever the Gospel was not proclaimed, the democracy dwindled without favour, and history teaches us that. The Gospel was accompanied by signs and wonders, the miracles in peoples lives have proclaimed freedom for many. When that lame man was delivered to enter the temple and worship, I believe he found the same freedom the Israelites got, when they came out of Egypt. The Gospel still transforms the world, and its lovely to know that it stands with and promotes democracy powerfully.

There are also nations in the world where Christians can’t even be open about their faith, they gather together in secret places, they live their faith behind closed doors. God knows them and understands their pain and helplessness, and I believe one day those chains oppression will be broken down to be able to declare the faith openly. I believe there is beauty in both, in places where faith is tested severely, it does become more genuine. When the disciples were behind the closed doors fearing persecution, Jesus still visited them and declared peace unto them! He is with every brother and sister who are struggling to live out their faith openly in different parts of the world.

Christocracy: What’s in store?

Finally, Since Christ rules in our hearts, and since we have tasted real freedom through him, it’s our duty to stand with democracy. Anybody who believes in Christocracy must stand for democracy. The rule of the people will become truly become fruitful under the rule of Christ. He is the mediator, a true representative of mankind to the heavenly throne. Any Democracy must lead people towards their true representative, who is Christ, to see the full capacity of what it can offer. The spirit of Jesus pours out to fill every soul to seek freedom and peace for all.

There are areas with regards to certain rights you can disagree, but its benefits in many other areas are useful to humanity. Christ can call the stones to worship him, he can do without any human help, but he always chooses to stand with what is right, he stands as one among us. He can do without us, but he still does through us. For four hundred years the Israelites were in Egypt, they were in bondage, but when they cried out, God sent them a deliverer. The Bible declares that before the second coming of Christ, people would suffer a lot without freedom and peace. There would be a Autocratic Totalitarian Government under a deadly ruler who is going to control the humanity. At that time justice, human rights, freedom of belief, democracy and everything that stands for liberty will be at stake. I see a huge cry among all the people of the world for freedom of such oppression, it is when Christ will appear, the true form of Christocracy will be revealed, the era of true freedom and peace will begin. Democracy is not the perfect solution to all human problems, but Christocracy is, but God always worked through our imperfections to give us good solutions.

The hype around democracy is the need of the hour, as many governments across the world confirming themselves to become an autocratic status, and as many leaders desire dictatorship than diplomacy denying fundamental rights to their citizens. Democracy is about people, and if people come together for the good of others, then it stands the test and serves the world for the better.

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
The Darling of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious

“Christian faith is the root of all democracy, the highest fact in the rights of men.”
— Novalis

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