|ⓒMarco Longari AFP|
In France, voting is not mandatory.
As far as I am concerned, I have always voted out of respect for the people in the world who never vote because they are living under dictatorship and for those who vote but whose ballots are tampered with and never get to see their lawful and much wanted candidate elected.
Are we really aware and grateful that we are living in a democracy? Or do we take this system as granted?
Do we realize that our democracies very often lead to the removal of democracy, freedom and normal life in a lot of countries?
Then why do we tend to deny the right to democracy to so many people in the world?
Right now we are witnessing the beginning of awakening among peoples who have been living under dire dictatorships for decades and more.
And we get frightened because most people are not ready for change especially when this happens in Middle-East countries i.e. ‘Muslim’ countries.
I was born French. I grew up as a European. My son was raised as a European. And now that I am getting older, I tend to think I am a citizen of the world. No borders allowed.
Such an easy thing to think or to say since I’m living in a rather safe area despite terrorist threats from time to time.
I no longer know what it’s like to go hungry or to be dreadfully poor. This was my life when I was much, much younger but it was only due to dire family circumstances.
I knew that we would somehow get out of it... I was not growing up in a Dalit family nor in a starving African country. I was growing up in a very disfunctional family but in a democratic country. Schooling was available and mandatory. This made a huge difference.
Unlike the young man in the picture, the democracy I was living into made possible for me, for my siblings and our children to go to school, to get a job and to have a decent life after all.
Now I am not pretending that in France, etc., everything is fine and we have no poverty nor unemployment nor social inequality. Because we do and it’s getting worse. Our chance though is that we are living in a democracy and in a republic where we as a people, we can peacefully exercize our sovereignty.
Back to those dictatorships that we have created and encouraged and sustained being the strong western democracies we are. Back to those dictorships that we have been using for so long for our own well-being.
Have we forgotten that most of our democracies were born from revolutions? How weird that we have forgotten all about our bloody birthing past. And even stranger that we deny this right to other people all over the world only because our democratic countries think it will be dangerous to the world balance, i.e. our selfish interest.
Yesterday night it was very interesting to be on Facebook because a lot was happening on Facebook - it almost restored my faith into this strange means of communication.
At one time, when we all were watching Al Jazeera Live Stream and sharing our thoughts, someone happened to talk about Fox News.
Apparently Fox News was once more using disinformation.
Because it is not really a news channel?
Or because it is used by and for people whose interest is to keep the world the way it is unless changes suit their interests better? Who knows?
Egyptians were rioting because they wanted to be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood (The Society of the Muslims Brothers i.e. an islamic political and religious movement), said Fox News.
Fox was simply denying Egyptians the right to freedom and to a better life than under Mubarak’s dictatorship.
A very harsh 30 years old dictatorship but so comforting for the Western world who’s so afraid of Islam that it is always ready to compromise with the freedom and the well-being of billions of human beings in order to protect itself... just in case.
I do not like Fox News which left me quite bewildered ever since it drove millions of Americans to believe so many lies at a time, well at a time...
But to be fair, our French government did not act any better when riots started in Tunisia since our Foreign Minister even offered anti-riot help to Ben Ali. France was so afraid the revolution was more religious than political... so they said.
Of course when French people go to Tunisia, they usually go to tourist resorts and they aren’t really aware of the dire poverty and unemployment rates there. So a lot of people did buy the Muslim scare.
The French government only had a change of heart because you see, former governments have granted asylum to political refugees from Tunisia... Protecting Ben Ali would have meant unrest in France.
What will happen to this young man from Egypt? Will his future will be as bleak as it would have been a few days ago?
Or will this eastern uprising mean better future for him and for billions of other people still crushed in dictatorships either secular or theocratic.
Will we be ready to accept the will of those people while putting aside our selfish interests, this time?
One last thought - Who really understands that aside from politics, we are playing a very important part in starving those people (and let’s not start talking about Africa)?
We own a few fields in Brittany which we lend to our friend Bernard. This year, there was wheat growing in those fields. I spent the summer watching the wind playing with the ears. It was very beautiful.
Then it was harvest time. Bernard came over looking happy. Harvest had been plenteous. Wheat was being sold at its highest price ever. A fortune for the farmers in Brittany.
I remember telling him that since the price of wheat was so high, it wouldn’t be good for the emerging countries. Many people would go hungry.
He looked at me, quite surprised. ‘You mean that you don’t know that our wheat is not grown for food. It will be used as biofuel.’
Wheat for me meant food.
Biofuel. For our cars? So that we no longer feel guilty about polluting the planet?
So, my dear friends, despair and hunger are not always totally about dirty politics. There are other and very politically correct ways to starve people, miles and miles away from our very comfortable way of life.
*Good Luck, and Good Night* (Many of you won't spend a good night. I have problems sleeping nowadays... too late and quite pointless, I know.)