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Guest Opinion: Out of control

We all understand about control. Self control is something we learn as children, that we can't just do whatever we want, whenever we want. We must think of others and learn to follow a set of guidelines to get along with others and get on in the ...

We all understand about control. Self control is something we learn as children, that we can't just do whatever we want, whenever we want. We must think of others and learn to follow a set of guidelines to get along with others and get on in the social world, whether that is our family, our relatives, our schools or just our friends. There are consequences of not learning control in terms of how we are perceived and how others deal with us. So we find some balance, giving some control to others in order to be accepted.

As we reach adulthood we continue that practice at school, at work, in our relationships, in organizations and in society at large.

The balance is always about enhancing the control we have of our lives and our futures by relinquishing some control to others to make the system work better for everyone.

Democracy is about maintaining that balance, giving up some of our autonomy to a system of governance but being assured that our voices and concerns will be heard and considered and that we will be a part of making decisions about policies and directions for the society in which we live. We may not always have a direct voice but we have a voice in electing people to speak for us and represent our concerns and sense of direction for the society.

We do not always find that our position is the one that is ultimately the choice, but we know that we continue to have a voice and are still heard and valued.

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There are always some who want to find ways to "game the system," finding ways to corrupt the process to turn the outcome in their favor and hijack control for themselves. Once this happens ordinary people no longer have a voice, nor are their concerns considered. The decision-making process is out-of-control, the people whose lives are affected by the decisions no longer control the processes by which those decisions are made.

Once that process begins, it snowballs and more and more of the society is controlled by a small and unrepresentative group who are making decisions for their own welfare and not for the welfare of the society.

At that point a kind of authoritarian mindset takes over in order to protect the ruling minority and their power. In the name of protecting us from the perception of internal and external threats, secrecy begins to be more important, surveillance and strong police and military presence begins to grow. Whistleblowers are viewed as unpatriotic, as is any kind of dissent. Sacrifices for security become pre-eminent, to keep those who are in control safe, and soon the society splits into those in power and those whose only purpose is to support that power.

Of course the real problem they continue to try to distract us from is that our lives, the lives of those we care about and our futures are no longer in our control in any real sense. Our only security has become keeping those with the power safe and happy, the rest of us serving at the pleasure of the ruling class.

They have become out-of-control and the result is that, in addition to losing control of the directions of our lives, we have lost our democracy and the necessary balance to have a sense of value as human beings with any kind of dignity.

This is the time to re-establish control, to impose balance once again, to stop the "gaming of the system" and reign in the abuses. The results will be citizens with pride and dignity and a future that is sustainable.

BOB PASSI is retired and is a resident of Baxter.

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