Democracy : The Ultimate Freedom

As we sit in the office and pack our bags containing voting cards, secret ballot papers and motion papers, all needed for this year’s Congress, I get to reflect on the last (but definitely not least) core Active value – democracy.

We hear ‘democracy’ every day … On the news, in the papers, in conversations and in culture. Many actions have been started and battles have been won in the name of democracy. This time, we will not go back to ancient Greece to reflect on democracy, but we will reflect on how we react to and think of democracy through the course of our work.

 Looking into the origin of the word, the literal translation of democracy is ‘rule by the people’. Today, we are looking at different forms and types of the democracy, which initially have the goal to provide better distribution of power, to make sure that the people’s needs are catered to when making decisions, to promote  equality and protection of rights, as well as to bring a sense of responsibility and participation.

Democracy is associated with voting, but it goes beyond that, to include participation in political processes by citizens, the involvement of civil society organizations, the functioning of different pressure groups, working groups, the establishment of unions, associations etc.

How does democracy work in Active? To me, I can see it in an ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ way.

The inner way is connected with the way Active functions itself, as well as in relation to its member organizations. Active’s highest governing body is the Congress – a group of delegates coming from the member organizations. In its absence, the Board is the one that brings the voice of members in Active’s everyday work. The delegates who represent the member organizations decide on the directions that Active’s work will take in the coming two years, its long term strategy, its finances, its policies. Every idea, every input, every question and every challenge is equally important in the discussions and every voice is heard. Youth for youth in a democratic setting is the way Active is, and will be.

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The outer way is reflected in the way Active works in Europe, and on national level, through its member organizations. Being a youth and children organization, Active sees young people and children being in the centre of all policies. As such, Active sees the voice and contribution of youth and children organizations as essential in the discussions and processes that lead to the policies being adopted. This view empowers young people and children to take an active stand, to think critically and to come up with constructive suggestions on how to tackle the problems in their communities. When it comes to all issues affecting the present and the future of young people and children, there is no better expertise, no more effective or efficient way than to include young people and children and ask their views and opinions. There is nothing about ‘being the citizens of tomorrow’. We are about today, and right now. 

Packing the voting cards and the motion papers, I feel like we are building an inner culture of democracy in Active and its member organizations, which has a spillover effect on national and European level through making young people and children ‘persons of interest’ in all policy discussions. Giving democracy is the ultimate gift of freedom, a gift from us, to us and to Europe.