…is not always pleasant or soaring or poetic. Sometimes it is harsh, angry, ugly, earthy, and illiterate. But any healthy democracy will hear all of that and more. The voices of the People are as diverse as the People themselves, claiming the freedom our country’s Constitution guarantees.
Yet, every voice needs to be responsible for the sound and sense of itself, which, unfortunately, in a democracy is not always the case. Responsibility is essential because the voice of democracy is a towering Babel of differences needing and believing in the right to be heard. Since the right to be heard does not always mean finding a listening ear, responsibility is even more essential. Diversity, like democracy, cannot guarantee harmony, but both need to be respected.
The single greatest challenge for anyone living in a democracy is not to achieve its ideal but to recognize, accept, and live with its diversity. Male, female, gay, straight, black, brown, red, yellow, white, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist etc., are oppositional only when one makes them so. War, racism, prejudice and all their variations are rooted in anti-diversity mindsets. Such minds somehow need others to be like themselves, believing that oneness and democracy are compatible
The voice of democracy is made up of many voices, each free to express itself. An open mind is wise enough to accept the differences such voices represent. Such minds also know that acceptance means more than mere tolerance and does not require agreement. Such minds realize that the energies and evolution of a healthy democracy come from the strength of such voices and their diversity.
Both the strength and vulnerability of any democracy lives in those voices. It is those voices that will not only confront the shortcomings of the struggle for human rights but also claim a share of the powers that govern. The process is not always pretty or pleasant.
The current presidential campaign in its own way exemplifies the voice of democracy and its diversities, and not just politically. Peoples’ voices are being heard even when not listened to. The media amplify the volume and enlarge the impact of those voices the candidates are courting. The towering Babel will continue for a while.
To accept those voices and their right to express themselves tests the meaning of democracy. Acceptance and a willingness to listen is merely the beginning of understanding, even when for some understanding is not at all possible.
“Trusting the process” is not always comfortable, but sometimes it is all one can do. That, and adding one’s voice (vote) to it.