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Democracy’s new nemesis

  • Published at 05:38 pm December 5th, 2018
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Protests can send powerful messages across the world BIGSTOCK

We don’t listen to our children

Democracy has a new nemesis, that doesn’t vote, isn’t canvassed by political parties, and which journeys along one of the basic tracks of the ism: Education. 

From the streets of Bangladesh, through areas in the United States, our children have defied the administration, playing truant to be vocal about issues we adults are supposed to care about but don’t: Climate change, gun control, and traffic laws.

They don’t have leaders or big businesses behind them -- just the urge to protest that which is terribly wrong.

In an ideal world, the parents, and adults in general, are supposed to highlight these issues to their children without making a mess of it. We pick their brains for unique techniques to handle these issues, and at times they just show us how to do it. But a combination of uncelebrated egoism cuts the precious link between what is doable, and what is not. 

The protests send powerful messages across, for these will be the next generation, and they want us to leave the world in a better state -- and not the sorry state that it is moving towards. No one listens to their views, be it debates or educational town halls, and so armed with pens and felt-pens, they scrawl messages of exhortation. 

Just like their voices, these too are not seen or heard. Everyone complains of politicians not listening to their constituents. We should also know that we don’t listen to our children.

On the flip side, the reckless driving, and irresponsibly picking up passengers continue to defy the zonal bus stops within Dhaka, and dilapidated transports still trundle on, though some improvement in traffic management is now visible. Nothing, though, seems to work with the happy-go-lucky bikers.

For all the ruckus in America, the egotistic American shall not part with his guns. For them, the laws of the Wild West (and the current one) simply leave them trigger-happy, and guns continue to be one of the highest causes of death in the country. 

We are told that these mostly happen for no reason other than psychological disorders. As if there aren’t loonies in other countries of the world.

But a president who tells whole untruths is woe-beholden to the National Rifle Association advocating for the possession of lethal weapons that most armies don’t have.

The Australian prime minister wanting to protect its mine resources has followed Donald Trump in opting out of a treaty that took decades to get everyone aboard on climate change. And we also hear of murmurs that the United Kingdom, with its substantial coal resources, is thinking alike. The Australian children didn’t listen to their prime minister by going back to school. Ours did -- thank goodness elders are still respected. The question is: For how long will this last? 

Gun control has been shown to be effective in Switzerland, where every able-bodied citizen has to work in its army or militia. They can retain their guns, but ammunition has to be surrendered unless they are tasked with protecting the Vatican. 

Checks and balances do work, provided the system that empowers these checks and balances work as well. 

No matter how much Trump huffs and puffs, climate change isn’t a figment of a certain country’s imagination. The fires in California and Australia, the swallowing of land by the seas, and other natural calamities and catastrophes have been recorded, and now the UN secretary general says that 2% reduction in fossil fuel emissions is not good enough. It’s that grim. 

Will his voice be heard? One hopes so. A nationalism frenzy may be sweeping through voters, but once the mist clears, it might be too late for collective action. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.