People and Power - Politics as Mirror
People can exercise their power in the political process only if - and to the extent that - they are made aware of their rights, opportunities and obligations to do so.
Government is a mirror - reflecting the level of consciousness of the people. Time and again, history expresses variations in the ever-evolving balancing act between individual / collective estimations of empowerment and self-worth and the willingness to understand and accept the need for government to play a strong and meaningful role in people's lives.
Winston Churchill once observed that : "... No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." When he was voted out as Prime Minister soon after his heroic and visionary leadership of Britain during World War II, Churchill - though stunned (along with much of the rest of the world) - graciously accepted the verdict and will of the people. His reward was to be voted back into office within a handful of years. Churchill's experience illustrates the beauty and strength of a democratic system that is based upon a deep and essential respect and understanding between the people and leaders they choose to realise their dreams and address their practical considerations.
The explosion of communications and transportation technology has served as an infinitely powerful foundation for the promulgation of values that are conducive to the expansion of human rights and fuller freedom around the world. While there are still unfortunate examples of places where the natural human trend toward more and better has been greatly inhibited (China and Burma come to mind rapidly), the overall pace and direction of political and social liberation has been positive and encouraging.
While one individual acting on behalf of a cause exerts an influence, the collective decisions and actions of great numbers of people are the true and essential basis of the fulfillment of democratic values and ideals. The inspiring, electrifying breakthrough election of President Obama - and his recent historic victory in passing Health Care legislation - are monumental examples of the ability to maximise democratic values by activating individuals and groups through grass roots / social networks while also taking full advantage of the very great opportunities provided by traditional mainstream media, reaching vast numbers of people instantly in both modalities.
While political systems may express elements of culture, history and geography, such qualities are ultimately transcended by the universal human values of hope, progress and freedom. Such societies as the United States, South Africa and Spain are shining examples of the triumph of participatory democracy and individual / collective self-empowerment.