What Price Democracy?

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the Crimean War. If you want to know why, the answer lies in what is happening in the Ukraine. The situation there is complex and disturbing, with implications for both Western Europe and Russia. Sometimes policy-makers are aware of history; sometimes they aren’t; but those who disregard history altogether tend to repeat the mistakes their predecessors made. I have a hunch we may be about to do exactly that with regard to the Ukraine.

In the West we have tendency to make an idol of democracy, but that sometimes leads us to applaud essentially undemocratic processes. I myself believe that democracy is the best form of government available to us, but I think we are often selective about the value we place on other people’s democracies. The policies of the Muslim Brotherhood do not appeal to me personally, but as a democrat, I am ambivalent about the situation in Egypt. Was Mr Morsi legitimately elected or not; and if he was, shouldn’t the West be questioning the way in which he was removed from power? Had he become a tyrant? If so, what are the grounds for thinking that, and are they sufficient to justify subsequent events? In the Ukraine we have an analogous situation. If we take all our ideas from Kiev we may take one view, but the further East we go, the more another takes shape.

At times like these we can feel confused and completely powerless, forgetting that, in fact, we are far from powerless. We can invoke the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit; but if we are to do that, it cannot be through some throw-away utterance that takes two minutes of our time and leaves not a ripple on the surface of our thoughts and feelings. Prayer is hard work; and to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit into a complicated and dangerous situation means to pray with all our heart, mind and soul. Are we ready to do that? Or, as I ask above, what price democracy?

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9 thoughts on “What Price Democracy?”

  1. Prayer,persistent and sustained seems to me to be the only option. That take discipline and the heart to actually do it. I don’t know that we can overcome our individual selfishness to do so; I pray that I’m wrong about it.

  2. Most of us sister are not in the league of those who devote their lives to prayer. We can only pray as we can, not as we can’t. Romans 26 however, appears to indicate there is far more going on when we enter our closest than first meets the eye, and thank God for that.
    I also think many people find prayer hard, certainly as something privately set apart, possibly because their prayers are constant even if somewhat below their conscious radar. For Catholic Christians at least, reciting the rosary is a fragrant way of allowing the heart its space.

    • No one is asking anyone to pray as they can’t, least of all me; but I think it’s a valid point to make that praying for difficult situations requires more from us than a cursory “Lord, please deal with this.”

  3. Politics, economics, religion, etc., the more we learn about a situation, the more we realise that the boundaries between good guys and bad guys can get quite blurred. ( as opposed to between good and bad.)

  4. Politicians are notorious for their failure to take notice of history. Every war and conflict less than war for many years has shown that. Similarly, ignorance of culture. This has led to the problems that we now see. Prayer is certainly needed but it must be informed prayer rather than generalised wish-prayers.

  5. How do I pray with my heart, mind and soul? Is it a question of, say, praying the Jesus Prayer as often as possible in the day? Is it constantly calling a situation to mind? Or visualising the desired outcome (dangerous – who’s outcome)? Is it praying that I will have the strength to do something? Is it merging into a contemplative state and thereby changing oneself and possibly effecting a ripple effect somewhere? Apologies as I’m rambling and this probably isn’t the forum for such questions. But I agree, prayer is hard work and not just a throw away thought. But how does one actually pray meaningfully. Hope this makes sense.

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