Last Thursday, as I sat through Students’ Society Legislative Council, I felt like my nails were being pulled out of my fingers. I heard the word “democracy” being thrown around like a hacky sack as councillors took turns accusing others of infringing on their ‘democratic right’ to speak and then carefully stroking their own and, indeed, everyone’s ego with a passionate appeal to the ‘democratic process.’
I had a visceral reaction every time I heard the word “democracy.” Hearing “democracy” spoken with the same ease as an order at Burger King has become quite a common occurrence. We speak today of the democratic process, the democratic child, the democratic Easter bunny – think of almost any noun, prefix it with “democratic,” plug it into Google and see what happens. Have we overused the word democracy? It wouldn’t be the first. Try using the word “great” to describe something that is truly Great. Or, ask someone how they are doing and try to get a genuine response.
I wonder whether we wouldn’t be better advised to speak of our conduct at SSMU Council not in terms of democracy, but in terms of collegiality, productivity, fairness, mutual respect, maybe even conviviality. After all, the two tenets of democracy – equality and freedom – are not ideas to be thrown around lightly.
– Marco GarofaloU2 Italian & Political Science