ISSUE 99 APRIL 2007 CONTENTS HOME PAGE
Who will control me?
We are having an election here this month. It is a provincial (state) election in which we will choose the party to ‘lead’ us over the next number of years. It is, they say, an exercise in democracy. Because we are all equal, we all have equal input, or so they also say.
I am reminded of the line from Animal Farm ... “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. If you have not read it, do. There seem to be some ‘more equal’ animals here.
The idea behind all of the hoopla, splash, and excitement of the current election campaign seems to be that we are a country which believes in (and lives by) democratic ideals; that we reject the idea of being governed by power and control — authoritarian regimes in which a few people hold the power and ‘allow’ the minions occasional input into the way their life will be.
Theoretically, at least, our society reflects these same ideals. Equality for all; input into important decisions, participation and inclusion.
Which, as always, lead me to reflect on our programs for young people.
I was with some program staff a while back, looking at how they do things. Words like inclusion, participation and choice flew around the room like bees at pollen time. Democratic ideals incorporated into practice?
Then we got into the details — parents assigned specific and limited roles, staff directed client input, participation restricted according to prescribed limits. The staff team dictating where and when these democratic ideals will be incorporated.
If they did it to us, we would scream.
Autocratic democracy as a program model?
Well, at least I get to vote in the race to decide who will control me.