madly in love with Iraq

16.3.06

My own experience with Democracy

The word Democracy itself sounds like music to the ear.
All speak about it, run after it and want to achieve it.

For me it first meant security, few years later it developed to fairness, and further on, to get one’s rights to the full; the last stage the word itself diminished and all I care for is how to cope with new taxes, change in interest rate, and the rise in fuel and transport fares and so on.

Gradually one becomes like a robot, so engrossed with daily demands, you can hardly think of how to change a reality rather than trying to live with it.

I often wonder who programmed this nation. And how?
One might say, it took them centuries to reach this stage. It is true, but people learn from others, they don’t necessarily have to go through the same experience. It is just like making use of an invention.

When I first moved in to my new flat, I thought that's it; it is time to settle and relax. Years and years have passed by and I still feel I am on transit. I thought I have to accept what is on offer and get along with life.
The first day I had to install my beloved satellite dish, my only connection to the world I belong to and try to forget about.
I did after making sure that there were two dishes already fixed on the block’s facade.
Soon after I started to receive letters from a neighbour that I have already met and spoke to, and literally lives next door!

The letters were quite upsetting and intimidating. I was puzzled by this behaviour, why doesn’t this bloody man speak to me and tell me exactly what he wants? To cut the long story short; the city council permits only two dishes in one block(mine was the third), when I spoke to them; they said if no one from the residents objects they will disregard the complaint, and advised me to speak to the neighbours. I tried to talk to him, but he avoided me, and pushed the matters further to the block management. The end was me taking the dish down and pay a good some of money as a penalty!
I learned two lessons from this incident; first to be very careful with the regulations, and the second is to document any correspondence with anyone in the future.
I later had another clash with this man, when I took care of the tiny garden in front of my flat which was completely neglected, and planted some flowers. He sent me another letter to say that the garden is not mine and it is for communal use! This time I was sure I am not doing anything wrong. I replied in writing and expressed my worries about him being racist and that he has a problem with my dark hair and dark skin. That shut him up till this day.
The third lesson here is that I was completely protected by an ethical issue. Any racist remark would certainly put anyone in a big trouble.

Whoever runs this country banks on one major fact. People don’t communicate with each other. They have a strange habit of acceptance.
If the train stops suddenly or there was a big traffic jam, people just stand still waiting silently as if nothing has happened. I used to boil and start looking at them to get some reaction; like we should go and strangle the driver or get off the car and see what is holding the flow. But after years of training I became worse than them.

When people do communicate, usually on big matters, like the war on Iraq for example? At least a million rallied in a huge demonstration from all over the country, even people on wheel chairs. Meetings and gatherings well organised, programs on TV, newspapers, leaflets everywhere. Still we all know what happened…..

So what does democracy really mean?

You choose one of two parties, or three or even ten. One of the first two will win.
From that minute you have to accept any changes occur afterwards, even if they contradict the party manifesto. After all it was your free choice!
Internal policies are affected by the change of governments, but the external strategy is more or less the same.

You can speak on any subject; campaign on any issue; political, social or even personal but that it all about it.

The state main duty is basically to collect taxes. 90% of businesses and services are run by the private sector.
Everything is subjected to tax, probably only the air we breathe has not been taxed as yet.

The conclusion is we are all employed in a huge company, we give and take, and we are equals in front of the law.


When I went home early 2004, I felt so optimistic seeing the shops full of different goods, and people shopping and finding all they want for a change. I thought this is a good sign. You can fight sectarianism, crimes, bribes, aggression, revenge and even anger with a solid economy. If people are busy making money and improving their lives, they will have no time to run after Mullahs or certain figures.

Then when the situation deteriorated in Baghdad, I thought the esteemed government might invest in one of the relatively safe cities of the south and make it an example for others to follow. Nothing of a kind took place. In fact the people in these cities were left with nothing but to join the crowd and contribute to the chaos.

Iraq was let down and betrayed by its own people before anyone else.

I wonder if we still have hope.

12 Comments:

  • Hey, that was a very nice post.

    I particularly like this comment, it closely reflects what I believe:

    [Hala] "You choose one of two parties, or three or even ten. One of the first two will win. From that minute you have to accept any changes occur afterwards, even if they contradict the party manifesto. After all it was your free choice!"

    By Blogger Bruno, at 6:54 am  

  • I have one small comment... Democracy was not 'invented' in the west...What happened to 'Amrahum Shura baynahum'(I struggle with that translation)? We do not have to use the 'Western' model of 'democracy' to proceed...We tried...Look where it left us? Divided...We should look into our roots. We have a rich political and social culture, we just need to cultivate in it...We should not have let a foreign force impose their way of 'running government' on our ways of life to begin with. Where do we pick up now? We 'left off' so many ages go...it's going to be while before we can 'pick up again'. We need to pick up the Iraqi way...not cultivate in the chaotic way of determining what's best for our people, but by asking ourselves, how did our forefathers do it? We need to find a time in Iraq's history when it was NOT under occupation, not British, not Baathist, not anything...When did the Iraqis rule their own, in the most loving way? Let's look for that thread and pull up that string and see where it leads...let's NOT invest in the 'inventions' of the West! It will not get us anywhere...

    By Blogger ZZ, at 6:49 pm  

  • zz
    I am not implying that we should adopt the British democracy. There is no way we can do that. The structure of a close knit society we have is the first obstacle. I was just trying to explain the set up in here. Democracy is just a system.Equality is the base, the details depend on the set up of the country.
    As for our roots. I am not sure there was democracy in Islam if that is what you were referrig to. Was Jizya imposed on none Muslims a practice of democracy?

    Bruno,
    Thank you for continuing to stop by

    By Blogger hala_s, at 10:25 pm  

  • Western style democracy is not necessarily a perfect answer to all the day-to-day issues a society faces and it continues to be a work in progress since the days whan the laws were first written on caly during the reign of Hammorabi. Many will try to manipulate the laws for their own advantage and many others use the law as a disguise for their xenophobia. What's important is that you continue to do what you strongly believe in spiritually and personally.

    Keep wrting, you have much to share with the rest of us.

    Also, take a look at the following, I believe you will find it of much interest.

    Regards.

    http://www.kurdmedia.com/articles.asp?id=11647

    By Blogger Antar, at 3:29 pm  

  • I don't think Democracy means security. The United States is the world's old and most succesful Democratic country in the world. Yet we have over 10,000 people who die in our country a year from just guns.

    You will see large nations like China, North Korea or when Russia was the Soviet Union, when the government is heavy handed on it's people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 pm  

  • Soon after I started to receive letters from a neighbour... Interesting... I live in an apartment. The rules and regulations are spelled out in the lease contract. So, if someone does something that is in violation of the contract they signed, then usually they get a warning message (i.e. "Please remove your bike from the stairwell.").

    Now listen to this: Several years ago, the U.S. government passed a rule that says apartment owners and building owners MUST ALLOW tenants to mount small satellite dishes on buildings and balconies. This is essentially a right which cannot denied! So you would have been OK in the USA!

    Democracy is like the free market. Each company is competing to produce the best goods and services at the lowest price. In a democracy, political ideas and policy ideas are constantly being published and promoted. The best ideas get the votes. The vote becomes like the free market of political ideas. It is a very, very powerful force that compels politics to advance.

    So, it is not so much your individual choice of a given man or woman--though this is important--but it is the entire system that constantly compels the government to reflect the best ideas of the people.

    By Blogger Original_Jeff, at 3:46 am  

  • Anon,
    America is not the oldest democracy.The parliment in this country is more than 400 years old.

    Security for a person like me who lived all her life before coming here under a dictatorship has a different definition.
    It means no one knocks on my door and harass me or violate my privacy. It means I can speak my mind without getting prosecuted.
    It means there are clear laws to protect me.
    Democracy doesn't mean there are no criminals or murderers.

    Original Jeff,
    Thank you for visiting my blog
    But I have to say that you lost my point completely. I am not writing about the rights of having a satellite dish. I am conveying my own experience. I have just explained above my background.So yes I was ignorant and I learned my lesson. Unfortunately I am not as sophisticated as the American nation!

    By Blogger hala_s, at 9:39 am  

  • But I have to say that you lost my point completely.

    I always hated those "reading comprehension" questions in elementary school!

    Iraq was let down and betrayed by its own people before anyone else.

    The good news is that Iraqis have another chance. The process is still ongoing. Maybe things improve if the politicians come together and work seriously to come to consensus about the future of Iraq.

    I know Iraqis are often angry at Americans for many reasons, but please note that our ambassador is out there trying right now to help Iraqis come together for the good of their country. And, our soldiers are doing their best to train and equip Iraqis to provide their own security.

    By Blogger Original_Jeff, at 2:18 pm  

  • Original_Jeff: "The best ideas get the votes."

    If only that were entirely true. The most appealing ideas to the voters get the votes. The most appealing ideas are not always the best. A reason why democracies tend to drift towards bread and circus.

    By Blogger CharlesWT, at 9:07 pm  

  • Wasn't democracy actually first started by the British people? But it does not matter who came up with the idea first. The idea of democracy is that people are free to make their own decisions without reprecusions by the government. Does this always happen this, no it does not. And it is not perfect, but it does mean we can make choices, and we live by those choices.

    We are not ruled by a dictorship or certain religous groups.

    What I am trying to say here is you should have a right to do what you want in your apartment. There are communities in America where you adhere to certain rules and regulations. Usually these are well to do areas. They have things in the contract that say you cannot have trees in your yard or if you do it has to be a certain height, or if you have a camper or a boat you have to put it in the garage or store it somewhere else, just not in your yard where it does not look good. So if you want to live in this nice neighorhood, you have to follow the rules or you will be fined and possilbly evicted from the area, although you do pay taxes here. You do not have a say.

    While America may not be perfect, we do have a little more say than some other countries do in their lifestyles.

    By Anonymous tom, at 7:01 pm  

  • Rules are in place to prevent anarchy. Democracy is in place to represent choice. I lived in a development that did not allow houses to be painted any color but white. That was their rule to prevent color explosion and resulting drops in value. I exercised my democratic rights by selling and moving to a devlopment without those rules.

    Simply put, if you don't like the rules move away. I am sure that the Brits won't miss you one bit. It's not racist at all. It is their deomcratic right to live by their own rules, not yours.

    By Blogger flythemig29, at 11:42 am  

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