Myth, truth and reality | By Rashid A Mughal


Myth, truth and reality

ALEXANDER the great, warrior, conqueror, a learned King and leader par excellence said in one of many quotes that “through every generation of the human race there had been a constant war with fear.

Those who have the courage to conquer it, are made free and those who are conquered by it, are made to suffer until they have the courage to defeat it or death takes them”.

In another quote, he says, “Without knowledge, skill cannot be focused and without skill, strength cannot be brought to bear and without strength, knowledge cannot be applied”.

Before his death, he told his people to just bury his body and not build any monument and keep his hands out so that everyone knows that the one who won the world had nothing in hands, when he died.

That he won the world is not a myth.The legacy he left behind is based on truth — his achievements.

And the reality is that we still remember him after centuries due to his accomplishments.He wished to live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity.

He believed in truth and reality and not myths.Myth, a symbolic narrative, usually of unknown origin and party traditional that ostensibly relates actual events, especially associated with religious beliefs.

It is distinguished from symbolic behaviour and symbolic places or objects.In Greek mythology, myths are specific accounts of gods and super-human beings involved in extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is unspecified but which is understood as existing apart from ordinary human experience.

The term Mythology denotes both the study of myth and the body of myths belonging to a particular religious tradition.

But its application can be different in different walks of life.Take for example, “:Love”.Is it a myth or truth or a reality?For some, it could be a myth and for some it is a reality.Here the element of success (or failure) decides what is a myth, truth or reality.

If the Love is successful, it becomes truth and subsequently a reality but for those unsuccessful lovers, it remains a myth.

Likewise when it comes to political systems, democracy can be a truth and reality if successful and a myth if unsuccessful, flawed, corrupt and diluted.

Liberty and independence are the most controversial issues when it comes to define whether these are myths or truth.

What we see in the western countries today is a Democratic evolution process of centuries.

Though the participation of people in running the day to day affairs of the country is the real beauty of this process but it has its demerits too.

The most vocal and critical view of Democracy is given by Wallace Wirths in his book “Democracy” — the myth and reality.

He differs from the general perception of democracy being an ideal system of government.

His book gives a general overview of democracy from its roots in ancient Greece to its contemporary manifestations in the home, workplace, courts, marketplace and governments of modern society.

Wirths devotes a chapter each to Athenian democracy; natural law and natural rights; the distinction between a democracy and a republic; the United States as a democratic republic; the threats to democracy in modern America; “the tyranny of numbers” — the search for a balance between majority and minority in a democracy; the perils of bureaucracy; civil rights and the treatment of minorities; civil disobedience; lawyers and the courts; crime and punishment; the free market economy; democracy at the local level; and, finally, the prerequisites of democracy.

Throughout the book, Wirths argues that the concept of democracy as it is commonly understood, is a myth.

Taking up Rousseau’s claim that “a true democracy has never existed and will perhaps never exist; for it is against the natural order of things that the majority should govern the minority,”.

He contends that with the possible exception of ancient Athens, the cantons of Switzerland and the early New England villages, “men have never experienced anything near genuine political democracy.

What we have had are republics, and they have usually disintegrated into some form of benign, elective monarchy or oligarchy.

” The distinction between a democracy and a republic is a crucial one, Wirths says, yet one which “very few of our politicians today seem to understand and which hardly any of our citizens comprehend.

” The framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to establish the United States as a republic, not as a democracy — as a government of laws, not of people.

It is very significant, Wirths notes, that not only is the term “democracy” not mentioned anywhere in the U.S.

Constitution, but the word does not appear in the constitutions of any of the fifty states.

“Social and political realities today further confirm that democracy is at best an elusive ideal” according to Wirths.

“Politics has become the domain of a professional elite, carried out in Washington, in corporate committees, in state legislatures, and city halls, often without the consent — sometimes without the knowledge — of the governed.

The family and workplace are dominated by strict hierarchies, free enterprise is dominated by stifling bureaucracies, legislation is dominated by lobbyists and special interests.

In short, while the liberties we do enjoy in our democratic republic are probably greater than anywhere else in the world, there is no shortage of threats to true democracy in our lives as social and political beings.

“The `people’ have very little power and certainly in nearly all cases they don’t rule.

” He concludes by saying that “democracy is a form of government which has never actually existed anywhere in the world, doesn’t today, and, undoubtedly, never will! Most of America’s founders abhorred democracy as a form of government.

They hoped to create what John Adams called a “natural aristocracy,” comprising men of virtue and talent who would govern on behalf of all.

In one letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams expressed his wariness of the “stupidity” of the “numerous multitude.

” Alexander Hamilton, in a speech to New York’s constitutional ratifying convention, said that pure democracy “never possessed one feature of good government.

” That’s why the Constitution set up American government with so many explicitly anti-democratic elements, such as the electoral college, an equal number of senators for each state and indirect election of senators by members of state legislatures, creating, in effect, an American House of Lords.

This is the truth and a reality too.Yet we champion the cause of “Democracy” knowing fully well it is the greatest myth of our times.

— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.


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