A couple of the phrases we hear our wonderful leaders using an awful lot are “peace and stability” or “peace and democracy”. The leaders of the great western powers feel it is very important that nations are run according to democratic principles. They will even get the guns out to enforce this upon some people they disagree with most strongly. When I say people. I mean the people in charge of entire countries. Unfortunately this often means the passers-by and people in the street. The poor people who make up the conscript armies of the bloke who isn’t embracing democracy do all the fighting and getting killed. While the dictator who tells us how his people will fight to the last man is usually found hiding in a hole in the ground when the shooting stops.
Back up a bit to understand why global conflict and international scuffles are a way of life and why there is no such thing as proper peace. There is just some intermittent peace and quiet while people aren’t enforcing their views upon those who do not share them.
Why is there no such thing as real peace? It is quite simple really.
See the black bits? Those are dictatorship type places, the dark blue are regimes that do not truck dissent. The lighter blue is where the rulers bend rules (which they made) to keep power. The lighter the blue, the more democratic the nation is. Not much light blue is there?
The majority of the world is run by people who take a dim view of anyone challenging their authority. They have fought very hard and probably killed lots of people to be in charge of things and are not about to give that up so some ‘peasants’ can wield a ballot paper. That is not how things work in the ‘old world’.
The old world is a tribal society where loyalty starts and ends with the people from your tribe. It is an anathema to them that if you find yourself in charge of anything, with the keys to the kingdom, that you would share them and the spoils with your enemy. The other tribe’s people who are your sworn enemy since the dawn of time. This way of life and thinking is not about to be overturned anytime soon in the authoritarian countries of Africa, Asia and parts of the Sub-Continent.
In the Middle East where the Muslims live there are two main strands and many sub strands of the Islamic religion. The Sunni’s and the Sufi’s hate each other with a passion you and I cannot begin to comprehend. They have very firm views on who are the proper descendants, followers and interpreters of the teachings of Mohammed and are quite keen to see the ones on the wrong side of their own opinion suffer a grisly fate. The sooner the better. Then there are the more extreme ones who feel this even more fervently. Then of course they have some issues with the Jewish people on the spot of land called Israel. They do not like them very much either and the Israelis feel quite strongly that the Arabs, Persians, and so on also do not have their best interests at heart.
But we in the civilised west enjoy what we call Democracy where we all get a say on who is in charge. Our leaders feel democracy is so good we go to great lengths to introduce it by force upon those who feel a big stick is a better way of keeping the populace in check. Not a trace of irony there at all.
But… and there is a quite big but. This wonderful democracy is run by the people we voted into power. This is where it comes a bit unstuck for me. The people who are in power in western democracies are not people like you and me. They are idealists. That’s not people who like things to be ideal, or just so. They follow an ideology. The feel very strongly indeed about their particular brand of politics which is where ideologies live. They might be Conservatives, Socialists, Liberals or god help us, Greens. They feel so righteous about the ideological movement they have subscribed to that they want to enforce it upon all of us. They want us to be Liberals or Socialists or Conservatives, just like them. We do this by voting that theirs is the best way of thinking. They devote their life’s work to convincing us of the merits of their ideology. They campaign constantly about the idea they like best. They tell us how important their ideology is and how we must also subscribe to it or our lives are meaningless and we are delusional for having an alternative view.
What these ideologists do not seem to get is that, we the general public do not really care one jot about their guiding principles, we want what is important to us personally. Some people will vote for their politician because they said they would protect the local hospice. Others like someone who is a fan of using windmills to heat their house. Many will vote for the person who said they would stop the local abattoir being opened or oppose the plot of land covered in traveller’s stationary caravans. Or they just vote for the person that belongs to the party they always voted for even though he hasn’t left his office for half a century. There are thousands of people, tens of thousands of them who would be aghast if they knew what a Liberal was. But who voted for them in the last election because Nick Clegg has a pleasant face and was less posh than Cameron and less odious than whoever the Labour party person was in those televised debates. I can’t remember.
So the conflict will continue because the people who aspire to run a country want to be the ultimate reflection of an ideology. They want a police escort when they move about, just like a dictator needs. The general public just want to live their lives and be prosperous and happy. The people with the rule book have worked and studied very hard to get into a position of authority and authority is no use if you don’t wield it. Wielded authority creates dissent among those who don’t share your view. We all do not think the same way and want different things so will argue about it. Those less able to articulate a point of view will just resort to force and so off we go.
There are also, sadly, millions of people who want to exterminate or at least subjugate people whose skin colour is different to their own and finally there are the tolerant and reasonable people of the world’s religions coming into the equation. Shall I continue? No point is there? Conflict is eternal, just make the best of your own circumstances as to coin an old phrase, you’ll get what you’re given, sadly. Chin up.