Monday, November 29, 2010

In Defense of the Deplorable Speed of Democracy

We in the United States have a habit of complaining that our democracy moves too slowly, a conversation which sometimes verges dangerously close to denying the value of the system altogether. But could our society really progress much faster?

In China, the Ministry of Civil Affairs guarantees a generous set of provisions for the welfare of children born with HIV. However, as Southern Weekly reports, parents in the Guangxi Autonomous Region have recently banded together to pressure a primary school principle to expel an infected child. The article goes on to report that nearly half of Chinese urbanites, when surveyed, would be unwilling to share a meal with someone affected with HIV, and nearly as many would be unwilling to work alongside them.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs promulgates an enlightened, sympathetic, and informed view of AIDS, but its guidelines are, for the most part, ineffectual. People's minds take time to change-- for better and for worse. The alternative to democracy isn't faster progress; it's merely a wider gap between theory and practice, and all the cynicism that comes with it.

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