Will it ever be possible to create a world democracy to govern the planet? Something that could replace the United Nations, perhaps, and allow people from all countries to participate in an international democratic government? Could such a government help us overcome the challenges of global warming, for example?
These are some of the intriguing question posed by a world-wide project called "Why Democracy?"
The project revolves around a series of documentaries; ten unique films. The documentaries are being used to stimulate a global discussion about democracy.
One of these films is called "Please Vote for Me." It's a gripping, personal story of eight-year-old children voting for Class Monitor in a school in Wuhan, China. Director Weijun Chen conducts a clever experiment to see how democracy might be received if it developed there. He explores the question of whether democracy is a shared human value, and he does it in the heart of a country where elections only take place strictly within the Communist Party.
The "Why Democracy" project presents another nine documentaries, most of which have been shown at international film festivals and won awards.
"Why Democracy" has a website, http://www.whydemocracy.net/home, that is run from a house in Cape Town, South Africa, where young people from different countries coordinate the project. They also produce an interesting blog, that you can see here.
A number of media organizations are supporting the project, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The CBC and the Metro Express chain of commuter newspapers have been interviewing famous people on the subject of democracy. Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali noted that "in a great part of the world 50 per cent of the population are illiterate" and that this represents an obstacle to democratic participation, particularly for women, who are more disadvantaged than men in many parts of the world.
The democracy project asks a number of intriguing questions in its web polls.
Here are a few:
Who would you vote for as President of the World? (Boutros Boutros-Ghali picked Nelson Mandela.)
Is religion more powerful that politics?
Are democracy and capitalism compatible?
It's an interesting project and a wonderful dialogue.