"Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
-- Winston Churchill
With another federal election looming on the horizon, there has been a lot of talk about how corrupt and inefficient our politicians are; about how there's no way to fix the system; about the lacklustre voter turnout.Yet I find myself curiously optimistic. Here's why:
Late last night, after dinner with friends, I stopped on Davie street and bought a newspaper before walking home. When I got home, I was chilly, so I turned on the heat in my apartment and had a hot bath, before checking my email and playing my Scrabble turns on Facebook.
Big deal, right? Well, it is. Think about it.
There I am, a woman, alone, walking through a residential neighbourhood at midnight, with no fear at all for my safety. There are no requirements in this country that I be accompanied by a male, no restrictions on what I can wear or where I can go.
I am able to stop and buy a newspaper with my own money, money that I earned and that I keep in my own bank account. This newspaper, containing criticism and analysis of all of the candidates in the forthcoming Federal election, was published without censorship and is sold freely. The bus stop outside the newsstand is painted hot pink, in honour of the neighbourhood's gay community.
I arrive home to an apartment that is undamaged by war or earthquakes, that is safe and warm. I turn on a tap, and hot, clean water gushes out, as much as I want. There are fresh vegetables in my refrigerator, a high-speed Internet connection for my laptop, and absolutely no censorship on what Internet sites I can visit. The pictures around my apartment remind me that I know where everyone in my family is and that they are safe and close by.
It's easy to become bogged down in the small things -- when the alarm clock goes off on a rainy Monday morning, getting out of a warm bed and going to work sometimes sucks. But think of the alternatives. What if you didn't have a job to go to? What if you didn't have electricity to power your alarm clock? What if you didin't have a bed, or a house, for that matter? In more places than we care to remember, this is a daily fact of life.
My voter registration card came in the mail last week. On election day, all I have to do is take it to the high school a few blocks away, and I get to cast my vote for who I think should represent me in Ottawa. Freely, democratically, and fairly.
People around the world are dying for this right. I'm proud to exercise it.