As usual I was running late. By the time I got to HRCM (Human Rights Commission of the Maldives) meeting hall it was way past the time Nawaf messaged me. Just to make sure I wasn't about to enter into a room full of people very disapproving of my tardiness I called Nawaf one last time to check whether it was okay to join up so late. The familiar voice warmly instructed me to enter and so after a moment of consideration I did. My first thought was one of cautious curiosity. What the devil was going on here? What I saw before me was nothing like any meeting I have been to. People were discussing serious topics with much vigor and gusto all over the place. It was much like a crowd of people all talking at the same time. Even through the gargle of noise of people talking over each other I heard coherence; ideas being expressed and thoughts being inked.
People were sitting in circles, someone told me to join one of them. Obviously I had just been inducted into one of these groups. Before I had time to ponder the depth of what had just happened put before me was the morally and philosophically uprooting question of why society was as it was and who was to take responsibility for the short-comings of the Maldivian community? One lady in her early 30s captivated the discussion. She was European, perhaps German or maybe even Italian from her accent. She was saying how the current state of affairs in which the Republic of Maldives found herself in was nothing new for fledgling democracies. And she made a very convincing case of it. She even drew a parallel between her own nation of Italy (told you so) and the Maldives. She laughingly ridiculed the narrow mindedness of politicians. Her tales of how things were after the Italian dictator Mussolini and how difficult it was to bring about change in the cultural perception stimulated the conversation. One other gentleman spoke from experience; I later came to know that he served in the diplomatic mission of Maldives in India. (Unfortunately our brief but endearing encounter lacked proper introductions so all I have to write about them is their wonderful insights and sharp wit) I for one had never thought a discussion on democracy could be this interesting or stimulating. So eventually we got around to singling out the core causes of the failures of Maldivian democratic system, this was the task given to my group. And thus before I knew it I was snugly and subtly in place in my group, all over the chaos of more than 2 dozen minds articulating their thoughts and beliefs.
Each group had to present their work. The first group identified the problems plaguing the society, and the second group, the one with yours truly, located the cultural, institutional and systematic causes for these problems. And finally the third group addressed these problems with possible solutions, each of which was viable on the individual level; easily endorsable for each person present. We were figuratively putting our heads together and putting together some very interesting solutions to decades old problems some would imagine irresolvable. This was raw intellect and opinion shaping a world in an image better than the existing one, this was genesis of creative solution. This was a democracy evening. And I was hooked.
DYM Project #5 - Democracy Evening #1