We are all full of ourselves. I once read an article on psychology that stated that even Mother Teresa helped out because of a “selfish” desire - the need to feel that she was being altruistic. It is an extreme view that irked my ire quite a bit, for my young self wanted so much to believe that we could choose to live above ourselves, but there is some truth in what the article said. We make decisions based on our needs. A parent provides for his or her child for the comfort that he or she is being a good parent, and so on.
Nowhere else is this more apparent than the governing of nations. While America keeps harping on how it wants to see justice done in Iraq, or how it is the only one capable of righting a wrong, we can bet our lives that its own interests are the foremost of its priorities.
Democracy was established to balance these inevitably selfish interests. I want what I want, you want what you want. We’ll take the mean of all of what everybody wants and somehow things will sort of even out. It is a system of checks and balances, and nothing less than the participation of the total population would see the most equitable decision made.
When the United States embarked on a policy of unilateralism, she made a statement to the rest of us that their selfish interests were more important than ours. The French could go to hell and all that.
I was living in the United States then and felt utterly helpless to affect her actions that would change the world in which my own children would inherit. Even in an academic environment, we foreigners were told to shush up because we weren’t the ones “paying the price” of sending our kids into Iraq. Joi Ito’s right - Foreigners, even those living in and contributing to the diversity of the United States, have no say in its foreign policies that affect many of our homelands.
As Bush continues to give Rumsfeld and Chaney the nod, the American people themselves begin to lose their own democracy. They are scarcely able to affect any change themselves.
I’ve learnt a thing or two about rigging statistics when I was studying business. You narrow the sample size to your desired group of people and the statistical mean falls within your favour. Just watch Bill O’Reilly tell guests on his show to “shut up” because they have a different opinion. Be the last one talking and everything will be fine.