DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT
Harold W. Percival
“WE, THE PEOPLE”
We, “the people,” are now determining the kind of democracy we will have in the future. Shall we choose to continue the devious way of make-believe democracy, or shall we take the straight way of genuine democracy? Make-believe is misrule; it turns to confusion and leads to destruction. The straight way of true democracy is to understand more about ourselves, and to go on in ever ascending degrees of progress. Progress, not by speed of “Big Business” in buying and selling and expanding, not by speed in money-making, shows, thrills, and the drink-habit excitement. The real enjoyment of progress is by increase in our capacity to understand things as they are—not the mere superficialities—and to make good use of life. Increase in capacity for being conscious and the understanding of life will make us, “the people,” ready for democracy.
Over thirty years ago it was alleged that the World War (World War I) was “a war against war”; that it was a “war to make the world safe for democracy.” Such empty promises were doomed to disappoint. During those thirty years of anything but peace, assurance of peace and security have given place to uncertainty and fear. World War II has been waged and the issues are still in the balance. And at this writing, September 1951, it is common talk that World War III could break out momentarily. And the democracies of the world are now challenged by nations who have abandoned the semblance of law and justice and are ruled by terrorism and brute force. The progress by speed and thrills leads to domination by brute force. Shall we allow ourselves to be terrorized and submit to rule by brute force?
The World Wars were the product of generations of bitterness, envy, revenge and greed, which had been stirring in the peoples of Europe until, like a volcano, it burst out in the war of 1914. The later settlement of hostilities could not end war, it only suspended it, for the same producing causes of hate and revenge and greed continued with increased intensity. To end a war the victors and the vanquished must do away with the causes of war. The peace treaty at Versailles was not the first of its kind; it was the sequel of the preceding peace treaty at Versailles.
There can be a war to stop war; but, like “brotherhood,” it must be learned and practiced at home. Only a self-conquered people can stop war; a self-conquered people only, which is a self-governed people, can have the strength, the solidarity and the understanding to really conquer another people without sowing the seeds of war to be harvested in a future war. The conquerors who are self-governed will know that in order to settle a war their own interest is also in the interest and welfare of the people whom they conquer. This truth cannot be seen by those who are blinded by hatred and too much self-interest.
The world does not need to be made safe for democracy. It is “we, the people” who must be made safe for democracy, and for the world, before we and the world can have a democracy. We cannot begin to have a genuine democracy until each one of the “people,” begins his self-government at home with himself. And the place to begin the building of the real democracy is right here at home in the United States. The United States of America is the chosen land of destiny on which the people can prove that there can be and that we will have a genuine democracy—self-government.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.