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For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken…we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God…We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going. – John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity 1630

I fell in love with America only a few years ago, but I fell hard, In a history class. A nation founded on ideals, which had continued through its history to uphold the standard of right government and insist that man can create a fundamentally good society. No human creation is closer to Utopian. Since that time I have looked forward to adulthood, to voting and jury duty, and taxes, and census’. I don’t see jury duty and taxes as burdens, but as relished duties by which I can prove man’s inherent good to a world which had for so lon denied and suppressed such ideas. I see America as John Winthrop did, “a city on a hill,” but I believe that unlike his America, mine can fulfill its potential. The America of Winthrop lacked something I feel is fundamental to the success of our experiment, pragmatism.

Pragmatism was embedded in our system by our founding fathers, who I do not believe expected the conditions and needs of society to remain the same. The ultimate purpose of democracy must be to rule pragmatically, or perhaps it is the ultimate requirement for a successful democracy. Our constitution admits this, allowing for infinite change to the laws and pillars of our system, as long as popular influence is not lost. In fact, as society develops we must, and have done so in the past, change to make sure the popular influence is not lost.

Yet to some great extent it has been lost. Bureaucracy has become a pillar of our system, layers and filters by which the stupidity of the people might be diluted into intelligent decisions. In the age when our democracy was founded, the average man knew little about political decisions, and lacked an education. To protect our system from the ignorant, while protecting the ignorant, only those with an education, and enough money to understand the larger effects of their decisions were involved in our system. Through time that has changed, an yet we remain terrified of the chaos that might ensue if the average American becomes the driving force in our government. So we have allowed the average ignoramus his say, but we have made sure that his say goes passes through enough layers that it become indistinguishable, and smarter of course. Our system has been successful, and I don’t deny that in the time of our founding fathers the masses would have been destructive to our “city on a hill”. In this day and age however, this age of near universal education and instant communication, democracy must become more direct if it is to remain a viable system for governance.

If we as a people truly believe that man is basically good, and can govern himself with justice and equity, bureaucracy must now be abandoned. In its place must sit a system where the say of the average man is only a few steps away from the highest point of government and reaches that point undiluted. Already we have seen a new political medium appear around the world, and it has proved its influence. This must stand as evidence that this new system of governance is an inevitable stage in man’s development, and must be embraced lest we “be made a story and a by-word throughout the world”.

In America, and Israel, and many other modern nations, the grassroots initiative has begun to rear its head, calling for recognition as a suitable medium for change, and a pillar of the new democracy. A demographic that has traditionally been seen as the bane of democracy has led the majority of these movement, the young. With a more direct access the the core of society, and a flexible position in society, the young who have not yet settled into a niche must be a driving force in this new system. Of course these are not the same young of 1776, these are youth in a world of universal education, a truth which must become truly worldwide before this system can be fully embraced.

Our current democratic system is not ready to successfully accommodate this new balance of power. Quickly, it is becoming as bureaucratically stiff and ineffective as the despotic bureaucracies it was intended to replace. As the prime and first example of a good society, the responsibility lies with America. If we cannot embrace the values of pragmatism our founding fathers set forth, our experiment will have proved forever that ultimate superiority of despotism in governing the essentially evil race of men.

I fell in love with America a few years ago, and that love has only grown, but I have a greater love. In my mind the model for this new democracy lies in the plans of Baha’u’llah, who proclaimed and taught such a form of government nearly 200 years ago. Baha’u’llah explains that such government as can unite the human race is not only possible, but our inevitable God-Given destiny. While I do not believe a single man needs to become a Baha’i for democracy to remain viable, I do believe that the values the Blessed Beauty set forth in the field of governance must be embraced universally, and first in America – whether we acknowledge their source or not.

I desire this station for you and I pray God that the people of America may achieve this great end in order that the virtue of this democracy may be insured and their names be glorified eternally. May the confirmations of God uphold them in all things and their memories become revered throughout the east and the west. May they become the servants of the Most High God, near and dear to Him in the oneness of the heavenly Kingdom . . . The people of America have remarkably quick perception, intelligence and understanding. Their thoughts are free and not fettered by the yoke of governmental tyranny. They should investigate reality and not be occupied with ancestral forms and imitations. – `Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 1912

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