Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms speak to the essence of our democracy: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person ...”
Understanding the intent and meaning of these words can be achieved better within a consensus building culture than one which is adversarial and confrontational.
Obstacles such as the dominant global culture of competition, within which we are educated, do business and live, will continue to provide major challenges to the transitioning into a more cooperative culture of respect, listening and sharing of ideas, rather than being persuaded by the dictates of promoters with power and self- interest.
There is a currency, however, that does have a compelling influence for co-operation and its name is money. It brings people together to achieve a common cause and the good news is that there is an adequate supply for everyone. Competition, however, determines how the bulk of this currency is distributed. Therein lies the problem for our democracy: What is my just share?
Reflecting on life, liberty and security of person may help in understanding and addressing the problem.
There are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. 25.4 million of these are refugees, 50 per cent being children. Survival, maybe, but a life? Freedom and security of person, pursuit of happiness are simply wishful thinking.
Marginally better off are the homeless, the unemployed and under employed, depending on the amount of public support by the community.
Then there are those of us who have lives blessed by where we were born and the community supports we have received. We have our needs met and freedoms that we are able to exercise, thanks to our employment and collective security. Happiness in many cases is ensuring that we have the legitimate right to keep what we have responsibly acquired and we are able to pursue our security and happiness through the contribution of purposeful work for our fair share of the collective pie.
There is also the very small group of humanity whose life, liberty and security of person are expressed more by excess and indulgence than limits. The competitive market system by its design provides a competitive advantage to this group for amassing rather than sharing their legitimate claim to their overabundance and privilege. The ease of acquiring more is directly proportional to how much one has already acquired. Is more the answer for better?
It is democracy that must provide the answers to how we can make the good we have achieved better. Each one of us has a responsibility to become engaged and become part of a consensus building movement, listening with respect and building a trust for those caring more about working together rather than pushing competitive agendas for the sake of self-interest and control.
As diversity and pluralism are strengths of our democracy, a good motto for gauging this trust in one another is: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Wilf Borgstede, St. Albert