Saturday, February 24, 2007

Order versus....democracy???

A survey that I read about recently revealed some interesting statistics about Russian political views. “By undercutting democracy, Putin satisfies the Russian thirst for order. His support exceeds 70 percent in a country where 75 percent rate order as their most important priority (only 13 percent plump for democracy).” (U.S. News and World Report ) The question arises: What kind of order are Russians seeking?

Let’s define the word “order.” There are kinds of order that serve people’s needs and make life easier. Order means justice; a punishment to fit the crime. Order means everyone knowing what they are supposed to be doing; and fulfilling that responsibility. Order means honesty and straightforwardness; with no skewing of the truth that will cause confusion and division. There are also kinds of order which can be harmful: the forcing of unreasonable standards that do not take into account the differences between individuals. Punishments dealt out rashly. A disregard for people’s feelings. Treating people as machines.

If not democracy, then what kind of government? How do these “order seekers” suggest that this order come about?

Another question I have is: What definition of “democracy” do Russians have in mind when they formulate their priorities? Is it a judgment of what they experience in their own country or based on something they have witnessed abroad? Has Russia ever really employed democracy?

The word “democracy” breaks down into “rule by the people,” wherein power is kept either in the hands of the people or in the hands of officials who have been elected.

Here are a few comments on democracy from Wikipedia:

Aristotle contrasted rule by the many (democracy/polity), with rule by the few (oligarchy/aristocracy), and with rule by a single person (tyranny/monarchy or today autocracy). He also thought that there was a good and a bad variant of each system (he considered democracy to be the degenerate counterpart to polity).”

“Research by the World Bank suggests that political institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption: democracy, parliamentary systems, political stability, and freedom of the press are all associated with lower corruption.” (emphasis added)

Looking around, I don’t see a lot of people modeling this order that they supposedly seek. Are they waiting for a leader? We already have one. Jesus Christ already came and set an example for us.

Someone might say, “But it’s hard to live an orderly life in a country that has seen so much suffering in the midst of upheaval.” But Jesus knew suffering. And he lived in a society that was by no means perfect politically. I am not saying that it is easy to ignore or change the “system.” I am just saying that it starts in our hearts, and that God’s word gives us the wisdom for living an orderly life, regardless of what is happening around us.

A visiting missionary gave me this word for Russia: Ps 90:15-"Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble." May this be a prayer. May Russia find gladness, if not in this life then in the hope of eternal life.

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