The Democracy Book-Principle 8

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Principle 8: Even those who do not like a law passed by majority vote have to obey the law.
Frowning and Smiling Masks
Do you think the two people frowning will have to obey the law passed by the smiling majority? It is unfair and confusing when only some people have to obey the laws. If some people did not have to obey a law like paying taxes, others would have to pay more to make up for those who did not pay. That would be unfair. Or if some said, “I don’t want to register my car. I will not register my car!” That would make problems. Perhaps someone would steal money from a store and drive away in an unregistered car. The police could not locate the owner of that car if it were not registered. And how would we decide who does and who does not have to obey the law? It is better to make the situation very clear: In a democracy EVERYONE has to obey the law. Once the law has been passed by a majority vote, EVERYONE must obey it. Even those who did not vote for the law must obey it. There is an expression often used in a democracy: “No one is above the law.” Do you know someone who thinks he does not have to obey the law, who thinks he is above the law? It is too hard to keep track of who would and who would not have to obey a law if we let some people not obey the law. Laws are for the good of the entire society. It is not fair to let some people not obey while others have to obey the law.  In a democracy you have to obey the law even if you don’t like that law. The four smiling people who are happy about the law will have to obey the law AND the two frowning people who are not happy about the law will have to obey it too. In a democracy, EVERYONE has to obey the law.


They were not done yet with the three who had voted against them—the ones that sort of hid in the corner. A few days later one of them, the girl named Tami, approached Petra.

“So you’re still here I see,” Tami said. “There is not really room enough for you. It crowds us to have to make room for you.”

Petra saw that this girl, Tami, was not going to be friendly. Obviously Tami did not want Petra and Nadesh to stay. Petra was not eager to make enemies, but felt she had as much right as Tami to be living here in Elena’s big house. She looked Tami right in the eye, “Well, we won the majority vote so we are staying and there is nothing you can do about it!”

“Yeah, I know,” stormed Tami. “I know we have to go along with the vote cause we lost.  But don’t you go thinking everyone here likes you because me and my friends don’t!”  Tami turned and walked away. Petra felt her face flush. She was hot with anger! She was so mad at Tami! But, she was also glad about all this democracy stuff. Because it was a democracy, even those who didn’t like how the vote turned out still had to go along with it. She was really grateful for this part of living in a democracy. But she still did not like Tami. Nothing in a democracy said you had to like everybody! Just to make the point, she too turned and marched off—with her head held high! To be continued....

Activity: Say “Everyone must sit quietly in your seat for the next 60 seconds — that is unless you are wearing the color ______.” (Choose a color that few have on that day.) This color must be visible in the ordinary way one wears clothes. If you choose green, let the students wearing green walk about and talk and do not allow the others to walk or talk. Now quiz the students: “How did that feel to have some not have to obey the rule?” Choose another example. Perhaps _______ (pick a small friendly child) gets to go around and tickle anyone he wants to but no one else can do it. “Is this fair?” Draw out the discussion. Another example: Choose 1, 2 or 3 children to be “policemen” to catch the rule breakers for the next exercise. Then say, “All the children seated on the left side of the room can walk and talk and those seated on the right side can walk but not talk.” Then, have all children leave their seats and begin walking (and talking if they are ones that are allowed to) and have the “police” try to keep clear about who is and who is not allowed to walk and talk versus being allowed to walk. Teacher, remember this exercise is supposed to be confusing to the “police” and perhaps other students too. Stop the exercise after it is clear that it is hard for the “police” to keep track of who does and does not have to obey the law. Seat the students and discuss with the “policemen” about the confusion that came from having different rules for different people. Then allow other students to join in the discussion.

Additional Activity: Ask the students, “Who knows someone important?” Receive their answers of who they think is important. Ask, “Does Mr. _______ have to pay his taxes?” (Yes) “But he is important; shouldn’t he be excused from paying taxes?” Go to another. “Mr. _______ is important. Should he have to register his car like everyone?” Stop this line of questioning when most get the point that we need fairness and clarity about who obeys the laws. You might end with, “That is why in a democracy even those who don’t like a law have to obey it.”

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