Democracy Should Always Seek To Leave Men

And Women As They Are Essay, Research Paper

`??????????? Democracy

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?[1]

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.?[2]

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.?[3]

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.?[4]

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?[5]

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.?[6]

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?[7]

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.?[8] 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,

individual choices.?[9]

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

individuals?.?[10] The

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.?[11]

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.?[12]

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.?[13] ???? 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. [1] Carmichael

et all. 2000. [2] Anonymous.

2000. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5]

Hookimaw-Witt, 1998. [6] Anonymous.

2000. [7] Kondro.

1998. [8] Anonymous.

2000. [9] Minow. 1996. [10] Ibid. [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. [13] Ibid.


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