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St. Bede's Catholic College

ST Bede's

Catholic College

    Is freedom compatible with democracy?

    Freedom - the power to determine action without restraint. Democracy - a society where everyone has the right to choose their own rules. Looking only at the definitions, the answer to this question is a simple one. Freedom and democracy consist of the same thing: the ideal that everyone is free to make their own choices. And our society is a prime example of this working in real life. We all choose our government, we choose our rules and let's face it, we can all do what we want sure there might be repercussions but we are all given an equal opportunity to say and do as we wish before then.

    Now we might live in a time and place where we're all free to make choices about the big things like, who we want as prime minister, but do we still have a choice with the little things? Imagine this: you work hard every day with barely any holiday. The job is tough but it’s the only thing stopping you from slipping below the poverty line. Your money is tight and you’re barely managing to pay all of your bills. Next Saturday will be your first day off in two weeks - it's your father's 70th, and you got the day booked off months ago (as soon as you found out). It’s the Friday before the celebration and your employer has just told you that you have to go in the next day. When you try to explain that you have the day off, they simply tell you that if you don’t come in you will lose your job. So you have to go in. tell me, is this freedom? Being put into a position similar to this because of finances, friends or even family, are you free? Of the 65.64 million people who live in the UK, around 19.3 million were in poverty at some point between the years 2010 and 2013. That’s 33% of the population. 33% of a population where the main policy is that everyone is free to make choices. How much freedom do you think they had in their choices?

    I was sat in one of my classes the other day when we ended up on the topic of money and our futures. There was one statement that really stood out to me. It was that “You need money to give you choices.” Right now there is a lot of talk on the news about students and the money involved with attending university. Many have to get jobs on top of trying to study just to cover their basic living costs. Now compare this to a student without the worry of money, are the poorer students really making the most of their education? Is their education going to suffer so that they will look less appealing to future employers and may end up in a situation similar to our first example? Now, this was only a very extreme example but it highlights the fact that with money you have more choices. With money, you are more free no matter your form of governance.

    I am going to conclude my speech with one last thought for you to consider. A society with no democracy would be anarchy. A life with no freedom of the fear of an unsteady job and no support network. And a society with no freedom could not possibly be a democracy. So maybe the question is not whether they are compatible but whether they are essential for the other to exist.



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