As Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst possible form of government, except that it is better than any other!”
In theory, the best form of government would be a benign dictatorship. It would be far more efficient than a democracy.
But in a world run by fallible human beings, any form of dictatorship is bound to become corrupt.
There is truth in the saying that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
So perhaps Churchill was right. But the problem is that the quality of a democracy depends on the moral character of the majority. If the majority are kind and tolerant of the minority, all well and good.
There was a time when the majority of people in this country were strongly influenced by the teaching of Christ, such as loving your neighbour as yourself, even though there have always been those who used the opportunities under a democracy for selfish ends.
But today, many people in this country have little time for Jesus Christ or his teachings. And however hard we try, we find that self-centredness, if not selfishness, is at the heart of our human nature.
Moreover, many are understandably fearful of the increasing influence of Muslims in our midst. It is obvious that some forms of Islam have no regard for people who do not share their beliefs.
At the heart of Islam is the ultimate aim to bring the whole world into submission to Allah and the teachings of Mohammed. So there is fear of Islam (Islamophobia!), which sometimes expresses itself in hateful attitudes, words and even actions.
So what are we to do? I suggest that we look to the cultural influences that have led to all that is best in our society.
We must recognize that historically the Christian faith has been a defining element in our culture ever since Alfred the Great, or even earlier.
The influence of people such as Shaftesbury, Barnardo and Wilberforce cannot be denied. Many of the earliest socialists were inspired by the Christian faith.
Moreover, many Muslims are recognizing that faith in Jesus Christ offers more than Islam. The offer of God’s love and forgiveness is unknown in Islam.
The teaching that we should love our enemies is more appealing than killing those who do not believe.
And interestingly, the Bible speaks of a time when God will bring in a kingdom of love and justice for all the nations in the world, a truly benign dictatorship.
Indeed the desire for such a kingdom is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer. So it is worth while reflecting whether the way of Christ is not best after all.