Overkill of Democracy – 20 May 14


I believe we all can agree that democracy is the best form of government that exists. The people have a voice and those actions will be taken which the majority of people decide upon. While I would like to write about the Indian election, the election in the biggest democracy of the world, another time, I would like to tell you about another phenomenon today: the feeling that there can be, sometimes, too much democracy!

Yes, I am serious about this – although, no, I also have to laugh about the funny situations that are created, often also by my democracy-loving wife, in the effort to get the opinion of all present parties before taking any decision, no matter how small. Shall we go in this restaurant or in that one? – I would like this one, and you? Let’s ask him as well, and also her, oh yes, and the other twenty people who were planning on coming along as well! You can imagine how long such a decision-making process takes!

Our friend Thomas has experienced such situations in his school a lot and he often told me that he did not need that much democracy in his life. Here is an example: There are 16 people in one room and their main task is one day to choose which one should be their new office chair.

In Thomas’ school, there are certain meetings that you have to attend and this one was one of them. You had to be there so that the majority could say yes or no to a chair, no matter whether you thought that was important to you or not. At least an hour of your life spent on waiting for others to discuss about the height, hardness and rollability of a chair.

Mostly it looked something like this: person number one, the principal or a teacher with specifically this task, tells about a few different chairs and their benefits and drawbacks. He ends with saying ‘I believe this one will be good’. A logical choice, everyone agrees. But wait, no, everyone agrees is not just enough like this! Now each single person sitting there gets the word and has to say ‘Yes, I agree with him’ and preferably even give a statement as to why.

Thomas told me when he got the invitation, he told his principal ‘You are my principal, I trust that you can decide which will be best for me!’ and to us he added that he would rather sweep the courtyard and do something useful than wasting his time in such a meeting.

It is sure however that nobody can complain afterwards that he had not known about the new chairs!

What do you prefer – decisions taken behind your back or an overkill of democracy?

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