Posts Tagged ‘reform’

By Now, These Protests Should Surprise No One.

February 3, 2011

On February 2nd the Edmonton Journal carried an interesting commentary by David Brooks, of the New York Times.

The context is provided by events in Egypt.  Here are just a few of his comments.  They are directly applicable to Alberta.

“(Citizens) invariably say that their government has insulted their dignity by ignoring their views.  They have a certain template of what a “normal” (province) looks like — with democracy and openness — and they feel humiliated that their (province) doesn’t measure up.”

“Moreover, the (citizens) tend to feel enormous pride that they are finally speaking up, even in the face of (intimidation).  They feel a surge of patriotism as the people of their (province) make themselves heard.”

“The experiences of these years teach us a few lessons.”

“…Second, those who say that speeches (and Twitter, and Facebook) have no influence … have it backward.  The climate of opinion is the very basis of the (astonishing reform).

“Third, for all the pessimism and nervousness that accompanies change, most (provinces) that have experienced uprisings end up better off.”

“(Politicians) always underestimate the power of the bottom-up quest for dignity, so they are slow to understand what is happening.

“Then, desperately recalibrating in an effort to keep up with events, they inevitably make a series of subtle distinctions no one else heeds.  The (current) administration ended up absurdly (saying that it would) initiate a reform agenda.  Surely there’s not a single person in the government who thinks (it) is actually capable of doing this.

“The point is, there’s no need to be continually wrong- footed.  If you start with a healthy respect for the quest for dignity, if you see (entrenched governments) as fragile and democratic (reforms) as opportunities, then you’ll find it much easier to anticipate events.”

“Over the past decades, there has been a tide in the affairs of men and women. People in many places have risked their energy and imagination and reputation for recognition and respect.  Governments may lag, and complications will arise, but still (people) will march (and organize new ways of doing politics).  And, in the long run, we should be glad they do.”

Everything in quotes, above, was written by David Brooks, about Egypt.  I have changed only a few words, and his description seems to apply to Alberta, although with considerably less desperation and risk.  The quest for democracy — and our dignity as a community —  is not 1/2 a world away.