Devon Dick: Democracy Not Popular Worldwide
Recently, I attended the induction of Georgia Gibson Henlin as a Queen's Counsel at the Supreme Court. This is a high honour and great achievement for one who is not yet 50. It shows her great advocacy skill, knowledge of the law, service to community, and integrity. Of all the applicants this time around, Gibson Henlin was the only to be so awarded.
It is impressive that gaining a 'Queen's Counsel' is a democratic award because any advocate can apply for it. As former Attorney General Ransford Braham in his congratulatory remarks said, this conferment on Gibson Henlin showed that anyone through hard work, commitment and without connections can aspire to this status.
A different standard
However, it is paradoxical that so much of the paraphernalia surrounding this democratic award was undemocratic. This is not a reference to the wearing of the wig by the recipient but to the ceremony starting with 'God save the Queen' and the recipient having to pledge not to charge the Queen for her services, when the Queen of England is one of the richest women in the world. No wonder our justice system is alleged to have a different standard for the persons who are rich compared to persons who are poor.
Furthermore, the British monarchy is an undemocratic institution. British people cannot be elected as a monarch; it is a birthright. There is a distinction between royal blood and the blood of commoners. In addition, God has to give preferential treatment to the Queen and spare her life.
The reality is that democracy is not popular worldwide. The major powers United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, China, Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia have territories as dependencies and department. There are 58 such places. Did not former US President Thomas Jefferson rally against USA being a colony of Britain? While William Pitt defended colonial status and in the British Commons there is a statue to Pitt celebrating his accomplishment of expanding colonialism. Some people will never be enslaved even as they enslave others. The Church has a role in promoting democracy for these territories because she created this monster when Pope Alexander VI divided the New World between Spain and Portugal. This was the birth of European colonialism. Since then, superpowers while advocating democracy will not practise democracy. They do not believe in equality of voice and vote. They believe in the right of military might and anything that gives one advantage over the other, be it education, race, resources, etc.
Therefore, the United Nations Security Council gives veto power to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, namely, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the USA, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any substantive resolution. This hampers the United Nations. In fact, this veto power shows that some nations are more equal than others.
The election of our prime minister is not by direct vote. Only one mayor is by direct vote. Our local head of state is not elected by the people. Our political parties seem to have an aversion to the internal democratic process. Therefore, after internal elections, other bodies and the party leader have veto powers.
When God poured out his Spirit on all flesh it is a statement about the democratisation of empowerment, decision making and the value and capacity of all human life.
Gibson Henlin and others have the awesome work to ensure that democracy becomes a popular aspect of governance here and worldwide.
PS: A few weeks ago, I said I started writing a column 25 years ago at the Daily News. Correction: It was the Sunday Herald.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.