The morality of democracy.

Nature perpetuates itself with an egalitarian morality that sustains its inhabitants in a world of shared limited resources. The underlying law is that if you consume more than you produce, you're mooching off limited supply, and you're eliminated. A lion that consumes more than it should, can't hunt. A deer that consumes more than it should, can't run either. Top-dwellers in the food chain are more domineering and less likely to reproduce explosively, while bottom-dwellers, though weaker, are larger in number and less prone to gluttony. In most cases, forms of life seem to be expanding in one direction while diminishing in another.

Humanity appears to be a perplexing edge-case to this morality of nature, because we're expanding in all directions at once. We consume explosively, reproduce explosively, and to make up for physical shortcomings, possess an explosive intellect. We've used our intellect to rise to the top of the food chain, sandboxing ourselves from the morality of nature by building our own. The imbalances caused to nature by this skew are so blatantly obvious that it begs the question: Was the human intellect some sort of A/B experiment by a trigger-happy nature, or is this all part of some greater morality that we haven't perceived yet?

Beautiful flower, ugly flower.

To curb limitless expansion in a limited world, we created systems called governments. These systems regulated distribution of resources and maintained the production-consumption cycle by producing on our behalf. Slowly, these systems turned self-aware in a way that rewarded people who were its larger benefactors, and social hierarchies were born. These hierarchies at most times rewarded intellect, background and riches. Since judgment is the nature of the intellect and hierarchy is its fuel, judgment grew endlessly, just like the boundlessness of humanity. On its basis, we built more abstract moralities as ideologies, religious constructs and faiths. We created shells of identities that protected us from the systems that inhibited our nature of infinite expansion.

Identity, through ideologies, faiths and religions, inevitably led to conflict. We then sought to constrain judgment, creating more ideologies based on intellect and hierarchy. If we went far right, we were pro-hierarchy and anti-intellectual, and if we went far left, we were pro-intellectual and anti-hierarchy, but this dichotomy only multiplied judgment because intellect and hierarchy are both manifestations of judgment itself. We refused to accept that a flower is just a flower, neither beautiful nor ugly. In this vicious cycle of abstractions, there was perhaps only one man-made morality that inherited from nature and was truly egalitarian: Democracy.

A framework of mutual benefit.

Democracy is a self-perpetuating system of mutual benefit that sheds judgment. Everyone gets one, and just one, vote. That includes the President. And empirically, mutual benefit might just be the most consistent framework for sustained and equal progress in a world of limited resources. In many ways, business shares the same philosophy: Give what I need and take what you need. There's no interrogation of motives, no association of identities, and no question of backgrounds; it's a pure system of exchange where everyone benefits.

Though democracy rewards the majority, this is simply because it serves to be a reflection of the state of society. Democratic elections are checkpoints where a society can stop, look at the characteristic of its majority, debate and reflect on what caused that majority to form, and perhaps reframe that majority in the future, all for mutual benefit. By virtue of this, democracies are progressive systems that learn through data and experience, slowly accumulating information and wisdom, realigning their majorities, and reflecting on their state of progress every cycle.

An oscillating pendulum.

A democracy is a pendulum. The farther it is swung to the left, the farther it swings to the right, and vice versa. Judgment begets judgment. The only way to reset this anti-incumbency is to not oscillate the pendulum at all. And the only way to not oscillate the pendulum is by not bringing judgment, intellect or hierarchy, into the picture at all. Mutual benefit is the only morality that does not swing the pendulum, and hence, democracy should purely serve as a system where everyone exercises their right to express their own self-interests.

Democracy works best when people vote for who they want, so that it can show us the true state of society's leanings. It does not ask people to vote with an intellectual or hierarchical standard of reference. If the outcome of an election shows us that the majority did not vote with elaborate world views, that simply means that the democracy did not create the circumstances essential for its citizens to understand how said world views benefit them. The society can then collectively deliberate if these world views would serve it well, and depending on the outcome, could realign itself to form a new majority. This is a spontaneous process that works only without judgment, intellectual or moral high grounds, right or wrong.

Democracy yin-yang.

I was born in the quintessential Indian suburban middle class, where culture and morality are the scaffolding to individual progress. The cultures I grew up amongst and the morals I learned were largely metaphysical; ways of life for the inner world, uninhibited by the physical limitations of the outer world. The principles I absorbed revered the cosmos, in which the infinite gods, or the absence of them, were all but subjective interpretations of the cosmos itself. This framework of infinite beliefs and vast possibilities is so fundamental to the ideology that is India, the largest democracy and a nation of unity in diversity, rooted in its acceptance of everything, the infinite. This was empathy.

For my postgraduate education, I moved to America, the oldest democracy, a nation that had conquered the morality of the physical world. The ideology of America, in contrast to India, was rooted in a culture of tangible human advancement. Its democracy was conceived from objective freedom as opposed to the subjective infinite. It had mastered the ability to harness the physical to collectively advance its kind. America was the yin to the yang that was India. America was the objective to the subjective that was India. America was the physical to the metaphysical that was India. In India, a singularity spawned everything, while in America, everything became singular, American. This was inclusiveness.

Where empathy and inclusiveness reside, judgment cannot. And a well-functioning democracy needs empathy and inclusiveness, not just from its government but from each of its citizens.

It takes its course.

When democracy was conceived, people of intellect and hierarchy benefited the most because others were not allowed to vote. But being the self-sustaining system that it is, it has constantly reshaped itself over the course of history, fixing itself from within. And it will continue to be infinitely flexible, representing collective expansion of life, learning from every chapter and consequence and ironing its kinks out. If its members accept its decisions and take part in its process through an empathetic, inclusive and open-ended exchange of ideas, democracy will take its course. If its members spiral into a massive vortex of conflicts drawn from identities, it will swing far to the other side, but will eventually take its course anyway.

It sails, but the choice of gentle breeze or rough tides is ours.