The Democracy Book-Principle 1

Select your language

Read the next principle or Return to table of contents

Principle 1: Life is better in a liberty valuing constitutional democracy

Working People

People like it when they are free. When people are working, buying food in the store or getting an education, they like living in a democracy. Other people cannot tell them what to do. Would you like it if someone kept telling you what to do? People like it when they don’t have to worry about soldiers coming to take them away in the night. Would you be sad and angry if soldiers took away people in your family? People like it when they have a say in who their leaders will be. People like it when everyone is protected by just laws. That is why people are happy when they live in a democracy. The worker, the shop keeper and the school children all have a better life because they live in a democracy.

Story: “The Adventures of Nadesh and Petra”

“Are you awake?” whispered Nadesh to his sister Petra.

“Yes,” she whispered back from her makeshift bed on the grain sack on the floor of the ship’s cargo hold. “This grain bag is so hard I can’t get to sleep.”

They had been sleeping on these grain bags for three weeks now, ever since the old captain had stopped the mean crew from beating them up the night they were kidnapped.

“Nadesh, will we ever see mother and father again?” They had not seen their parents since the pirates had raided their seaside village. The pirates had burned their house to the ground. Nadesh and his sister, Petra, had been dragged off into the night and finally on board this ship. They could scarcely remember when life had been normal. But, at least they were alive. The old pirate captain was not really kind to them, but he did keep a protective eye on them during the day. At night he locked them in the cargo hold for their own safety. That way the crew could not bother them.

“No, I don’t think we will see them again,” he said softly. There was silence as they wiped tears from their eyes. Then, on a brighter note, Nadesh spoke again. “I overheard the old captain talking to the first mate just after dinner.”

“Is that the one with the eye patch ... and he keeps that dagger in his belt?” she asked.

“Yeah, that’s the one. But I heard the captain tell him they are going to put us ashore in the morning.  They said the place is called Big Tree Land.”

“I’ll be glad to get out of here,” Petra said. “But why that place? They could have dumped us anywhere.”

“Well,” said Nadesh, “the captain said we would have a chance to survive there. He said the people would treat us ok—because the place is a democracy.”

“So, what is so great about a” asked Petra.

“Well, the captain said he had always heard that people like living in a democracy. I guess he figures that will keep us safe without having to be locked up in a cargo hold every night,” Nadesh said.

“I sure hope he’s right,” Petra said. They fell silent. And then they fell asleep.

Meanwhile, on the deck above, the captain was steering straight for the cove at Big Tree Land. He planned to put them ashore just at sun up and be on his way before anyone there could ask any questions! To be continued....

Activity: This activity illustrates that people like to choose their leaders. Ask for a few (2 – 5) volunteers. Have the non-volunteers wait in their seats and tell them they are to pretend they are adults in a village. Take the volunteers aside and instruct them to (1) act tough (but don’t touch the other children) with their body posture and their voice and facial expression—you may have to demonstrate this for them, and then (2) have them walk into the “village” and say they are taking over and will be the rulers. “We are in charge now!” If it is too funny the first time, ask for them to do it again, but this time without laughter. Have the “rulers” demand the others “line up,” “now face the wall,” “no talking,” etc. Even if the other students do not comply, have the “rulers” appear mean and continue to shout out orders. Now, ask the villagers if they liked it when others took over and they had no say in it. Ask if it was fair for the rulers to be in charge of the others. You can point out that such rulers are seldom popular.

Additional activity: Choose a few students to be “government soldiers” from a non-democratic government. Have the rest pretend to be asleep in their village (and not wake up until “morning”). Have the soldiers sneak in and take one or two away—then have “morning” come and have the villagers awake and discover that friends and family members are missing. How does it feel to have people stolen from you? Is it fair that there is no law to protect the people?  To conclude this activity perhaps read the discussion page aloud again. Point out that in a democracy the government is FOR the people and not AGAINST the people. Then say, “People like to live in a democracy.”

Read the next principle or Return to table of contents