Democracy Should Always Seek To Leave Men
And Women As They Are Essay, Research Paper
and its attempts to change people are often simply a nice way for the majority
to oppress a minority, by attempting to change them ?for their own good.? When
thinking of this question, bad examples of attempts by a democracy to change
and or alter its citizens, or dependants often come to mind. The residential
school system in Canada was a way for the Canadian government to try to quietly
transform and alter the Native segment of the Canadian population. Community
based theories in philosophy are theories that often about subverting the will
of the individual, and individual freedom of choice to the will of the majority
in the interests of a society, in that it is desired that everyone follow the
value norms of the majority. When a democracy engages in attempts to transform
or alter another group, it is often because the ?Will of All?
seeks to bring deviating members of society into line with the ?Will of All.?
It is for these and other reasons, that democracy should stick to just being an
exercise of the voice of All people, and not attempt to alter or
transform its constituents. ???? The
first and perhaps most poignant example of a democracy?s attempt to change and
alter its constituents for the better can be found right here in Canadian
history, and you only need to go back about five years to find it. ?From the 1880s until 1996, when the last
school closed, about 100,000 native children attended 100 or so residential
schools run by the main Christian churches all over Canada.?
In the beginning the Canadian government set out to turn Native children into
?productive and civilised? members of society. ?The schools’ purpose
(originally, at least) was to transform these "savages" into
"civilised", productive citizens.?
While at first hearing this, one may assume that it is a noble desire for a
government to desire that all of its constituents be ?productive and civilised?
anyone who is familiar with the history of the residential school system, and
the abuse of Native children in that system, will have less then positive
thoughts towards the notion that Residential Schools were anything but uncivilised
and barbaric in their treatment of Native children. ?Children were taken from
their families and confined in remote institutions where they were poorly fed
and clothed, indifferently taught, forced to work long hours and whipped if
they spoke their native languages.?
The results from these attempts to ?transform and alter? Native children for
their own good, have caused no shortage of problems for Native adults
?graduated? from these residential schools, the Canadian government that funded
them, and least of all the churches that ran them. Native people are dealing
with the fallout from being ?civilised? by these schools and it has left a mark
long and deep on the Native community. ?A lot of problems that Native people
have today came out of Residential School; psychological problems. And we
passed our problems on to our children?
Natives have also been working to rebuild and restore their culture,
traditions, identities and communities since the advent of residential schools
into their lives.? ?There was also an
onslaught on our culture and identity through the content taught in school and
the way it was taught.?
The fallout has also been bad for the Canadian government, forcing them to
issue a public apology, something governments never like to do as it involves
taking responsibility for their actions and the results of those actions. ?To
those who suffered abuse ?and who have carried this burden believing that in
some way they must be responsible, we wish to emphasise that what you
experienced was not your fault and should never have happened. To those of you
who suffered this tragedy of residential schools, we are deeply sorry?
The churches being the ones who ran the schools and organisations directly
responsible for many of the injustices that were inflicted, are also suffering
major consequences from their attempt to ?civilize the savages.?? ?The national office of the Anglican church,
which had overall charge of its schools, expects that legal costs will also
bankrupt it some time next year. The Roman Catholic Church foresees the same
fate for several of its religious orders, which ran about 60% of the schools in
the system.? This chapter
in Canadian history is an excellent reminder as to what happens when a
democracy attempts to ?transform and alter? people for their own good, the
effects are often contrary to the goal that was held in the first place, and
contribute, in many cases to further social problems. ???? There is another example to be had in
examination of an article rooted in moral philosophy. While moral philosophy
may seem removed from this question as it does not even fall under the guise of
political science, the question of whether or not a democracy should seek to
?transform and alter? its people is in fact a moral question. Community based
theories stress the importance of social norms and traditions of the good.
These same social norms and traditions are often what a democracy will seek to
instil, or alter its citizens too so that they enshrine the norms and
traditions of the general society as their own. ?Some community based theorists
turn to traditional sources to articulate the content of social norms and the
shape of relationships endorsed by the community. Others stress a commitment by
the society to pursue the common good rather then a regime of entirely private,
These same community based theorists are often the ones who believe that a
democracy should not seek to allow or permit any relationship that is based on
the feeling that an individual has the right to choose their own path or mode
of living, within a free democracy. ?Where contract based theories would urge
freedom for individuals to embrace their own values under a state neutral about
all values except individual?s freedom to contract, community based theories
regard it as neither possible nor desirable ?that the state should refrain from
coercive public judgements about what constitutes the good life for
significant features of this collective community based theory that one should
pick out are the terms; coercive, public judgments (collective ?democratic?
judgements), and individual freedom. Within the realm of the community based
theorist, whose desire for collective decisions of the community to impost the
proper values upon members of that wish to exercise their individual freedom to
do as they please, the desire to impose one?s own views upon another is readily
apparent. ???? To bring this example into the terms and
conditions of the present world and present questions of relevance in our
democratic society let us consider the question of same sex marriages and how
the community based theorist would view the states need to step in and be a
part of the debate, for the good of upholding the values, norms, and traditions
of society. ?Because there is great social value in preserving the family as an
institution ?framed within a horizon of intergenerationality,? a restrictive
ideal of sexual and intimate relations is desirable.?
This mindedness of the advocates of community based theory, or the role of the
state in forming and upholding moral norms in the name of the good of society,
can to be an extent viewed in the same light as the previous position of
society on Native peoples, Native peoples beliefs and values did not conform to
the ideals of general society and should be changed to fit with society, so too
should the ideals and norms of non traditional relationships. It is for this
reason that community based theorists ?have to confront deep divisions about
policy choices and the values implicated by them.?
What often results however is a case in which ?community-based theorists
proceed instead with the view that one way of life is to be preferred or some
are to be disfavoured. Not only does this view run counter to the liberty and
tolerance usually advocated in pluralist societies, it also invites potentially
irresolvable and intense conflicts about what should and should not be
preferred.? ???? We now return to the original assertion
that ?democracy should always seek to leave men and women as they are rather
then attempt to alter or transform them. This assertion is the best assertion
as a society that seeks to alter and transform its citizens is often running
policies that run counter to the principals of individual freedom, one of the
base pillars of democracy itself. While it is possible that citizens will be
changed for the better by participation in democracy, and that this will in
fact alter and transform them, it will be out of a citizen?s own choice and
violation to do so. When a democracy attempts to mould and shape groups within
its own citizenry, often times against the will the group being changed the
democracy knocks out its own foundation. The fundamental principal of democracy
is the free choice of a voter to make his or her own decision. When a democracy
tries to change a citizen against his or her own will that decision is taken
away from the group, or minority in question, and freedom is lost. Bibliography & References Anonymous. ?The Americas: Tales out of school.? The
Economist. London. Oct 28, 2000. Vol. 357. Issue. 8194Carmichael, Pocklington, Pyrcz. ?Democracy, Rights,
and Well-Being in Canada.? Harcourt Canada Ltd. Toronto. Canada. 2000.Kondro,
Wayne. ?Canada apologises to native people who suffered abuse? The Lancet.
London. Jan 17, 1998. Vol. 351. Issue: 9097Hookimaw-Witt, J.?
?Any changes since residential school?? Canadian Journal of Native
Education. Edmonton. 1998. Vol. 22. Issue:?
2Hookimaw-Witt, J. ?Keenabonanoh Keemoshominook
Kaeshe Peemishishik Odaskiwakh [We stand on the graves of our ancestors].?
Native Interpretations of Treaty #9. Trent University. Kells & Associates.
(1995).Minow, Martha, & Lyndon, Shanley. ?Relational
Rights and Responsibilities: Revisioning the Family in Liberal Political Theory
and Law.? Hypatia. 1996. Vol. 11. Issue. 1.  Carmichael
et all. 2000.  Anonymous.
2000.  Ibid.  Ibid. 
Hookimaw-Witt, 1998.  Anonymous.
2000.  Kondro.
1998.  Anonymous.
2000.  Minow. 1996.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.