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When Does Democracy Succeed?
Across the world, there is a widespread admiration for democracy as the preferred form of Government. The fondness for democracy arises from the belief that it best fulfills certain expectations of human wellbeing. But, is this reasoning sound?
To elaborate, Figure 1 depicts democracy as an input-output system. Several illustrative outcomes indicative of what is expected from a democracy are shown in Figure 1.
To understand the conditions required for the success of democracy, it is necessary to discuss the notion of internal excellence.
Internal Excellence Explained
We, the 7½ billion human inhabitants of planet Earth, have three components of the mindset denoted by the letters, S, R, and T. They are defined in Table I. Figure 1 depicts the scale of internal excellence. The noble ones among us are towards the top-end of the scale while the wicked ones towards the bottom and the rest of us somewhere in between.
Internal excellence has nothing to do with race, caste or religion, gender, or national origin. The definition of the three components is such that perfection (Pure S) is not possible. The most one can hope for is maximum S and minimum R and T components.
Just as individuals have a level of internal excellence, so do societies, but when it comes to societies, we speak in terms of an average level of internal excellence. Due to reasons that are not well understood, the S, R, T components undergo transformation over time.
As the average S component of a society rises, the society rises, but the S component cannot increase indefinitely, and when it reaches its peak, the T component takes over, and the society begins to decline. The average T component cannot decline indefinitely either, and when it reaches its peak, the S component takes over and the society begins to rise again. These mindset transformations lead to repeated rise and fall of societies as depicted in Figure 2. History records the inevitability of the rise and decline of societies. Ancient civilizations such as Egypt, China and India, and not so ancient cultures such as Greece and the Roman Empire are all examples of societies that dominated the world at one time only to eventually decline with the passage of time.
Now, reflect on the prospects for the success of democracy in the context of the societal levels of internal excellence.
Success is much more likely in a society in Figure 3(a) where the societal level of internal excellence is high, but far less likely in a society where it is low, as in Figure 3(b).
To corroborate these ideas, we examined the data in all 23 volumes of the 1991 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica in the early nineties to see if they offered any clues on the rise and fall of societies. We studied Greece, Great Britain, Germany and the United States. The data for Greece are shown in Figure 4. This figure depicts the number of individuals born in Greece listed in all the twenty-three volumes of the reputed reference. The nation that gave birth to giants like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Archimedes and Homer is today counted as the weakest link in the European Union. I have taught a six sigma class for the MBA students of the University of Kentucky in Athens, Greece for twelve years and the students were in agreement on my findings about their nation.
The data for the United States are shown in Figure 5. Note that we only come to know if the decline of a society has begun decades after the fact.
These concepts suggest that there will always be societies across the world in various stages of rise and decline at any given time, and that democracy is not apt to deliver the expected results in the societies currently in decline whose societal level of internal excellence is low.
The question now arises, are we going to stay on the sidelines helplessly witnessing the vagaries of rise and decline, or intervene? Intervention is possible, for there is a way to transform individuals and societies.
At the outset, transformation of individuals and societies is not an intellectual exercise, the required positive changes have to come about from within. And, this requires a measurement device for internal excellence and a process with which to enhance it.
Internal excellence cannot be measured, but emotions can, and this is fortunate as the two are strongly and positively correlated. Table II is an expansion of Table I in that it now includes human emotions.
Human beings are endowed with two types of emotions: Positive emotions and negative emotions defined in Table II. The two emotions are correlated with the three mindset components. Positive emotions are strongly and positively correlated with the S component while negative emotions are strongly and positively correlated with excessive R and T components. The specific proportions of these components determine the level of internal excellence of an individual. These ideas are depicted in Figure 6.
Here too, the noble ones among us are towards the top-end of the scale of emotional excellence while the wicked ones towards the bottom, and the rest of us somewhere in between. The scales of internal excellence and emotional excellence are entirely equivalent.
A firm indication of the high level of emotional excellence is the capacity to remain centered in the face of the most extenuating external circumstances that are part of life. For example, if you stub your toe, what is your instant reaction? Or, someone cuts into your lane while driving, nearly causing an accident, what is your reflex reaction?
At first glance, inculcating positive emotions at the exclusion of negative emotions may appear to be deceptively simple: Just watch over one’s emotions and cultivate only positive emotions. A thirty-day self-assessment should offer compelling evidence that such is not the case. Success requires that the required positive changes come about from within.
The problem at hand then is to find a way to estimate internal excellence/emotional excellence and a process with which to bring about positive changes from within and enhance internal/emotional excellence. Success will deliver a myriad of benefits.
Measurement of Emotions
We all have trillions of cells in our bodies. If these cells are broken down into even smaller parts, we will find that they are made up of atoms. Atoms have neutrons and protons in their nuclei and electrons orbit them. Thus, unbeknownst to us, we are all vibrating all the time. Our vibrational characteristics are our true nature. Vibrations is light, not visible light, but light along the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet to infrared. Our light characteristics determine everything about us including emotions. It is just that the vibrational signals are too weak to perceive with the five senses. For example, if you look at someone, can you really tell how that person is feeling? For measurement purposes, the vibrational signals have to be stimulated and amplified.
There are two ways to stimulate and amplify our vibrations for measurement purposes.
In one approach, MIT researchers used wireless radio frequency (RF) signals in their device, which goes by the name EQ Radio. The device sends an RF signal to the subject and captures and analyzes the reflected signal with a machine-learning algorithm to estimate emotions, the researchers say at an accuracy of 87%, similar to an EKG. Their research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Air Force, with additional support from major corporations.
The second device which goes by the name Bio-Well, operates on the Gas Discharge Visualization (GDV) principle. It estimates our light characteristics by applying a harmless electric current to the ring fingers of both hands, one at a time. The finger’s response to the electrical stimulus is a burst of photons that are captured and analyzed with software to estimate a stress parameter and energy, J. These parameters directly correlate to stress and emotions. See this short video clip showing how the measurement is made. Figure 7 depicts the photonic images of a metal cylinder which is unaffected by external conditions, a long-time meditator, and a highly stressed individual.
Bio-Well is not intended to be used as a medical diagnostic device, however, the GDV technology is registered with the FDA and the EU. The measurement is noninvasive, painless, and takes only a couple of minutes.
The stress parameter ranges from 0 to 10. The lower the value of the stress parameter, the better. The value of ~2.0 is a calm state. Negative emotions elevate the stress parameter and reduce energy levels. The normal range of energy is 60 to 70 J.
Enhancement of Emotional Excellence.
The pursuit of emotional excellence to cultivate positive emotions at the exclusion of negative emotions is a well-posed scientific problem since emotions can be estimated and the process with which to rise in emotional excellence is meditation, or more generally yoga, known for thousands of years. The availability of devices to estimate emotions means progress can be audited. Meditation brings about the required positive changes from within.
The path forward for individual transformation into a better human beings is clear, but its extension to societal transformation requires additional thought.
It is impractical to expect everyone in a society to engage in the regular practice of yoga and meditation. This is where the phenomena of “Maharishi Effect” is useful. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi proposed that a tiny √1 % of the population in meditation can make the world more peaceful. Quantum physicist and three-time US Presidential nominee, Dr. John Hagelin, and his associates demonstrated this concepts in Washington, DC where 4,000 meditators brought down the serious crime rate in the Washington DC metropolitan area significantly.
The paper has explained when democracy as a form of Government is apt to deliver the expected results. The explanation presented warns societies that exporting the otherwise worthy ideas of democracy as a form of Government to societies in decline where the societal level of internal excellence is low is fraught with high prospects for failure. The efforts instead should focus on promoting the societal level of internal excellence wherever possible.
Throughout history, societies have risen and declined on their own accord. This article has attempted to show that it is possible to intervene to accelerate the rise of nations, postpone decline, and change the direction of societies in decline, all for a more peaceful world.
Finally, please reflect on what can happen when developed nations in possession of nuclear weapons decline, but the WMDs remain in their possession.
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Pradeep B. Deshpande and Phoebus M. Christopher, On the Cyclical nature of Excellence, Reflections, No. 1 1993.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, On the Scriptural Notion of Varna: Is India on the Rise? Reflections, No. 2 1996.
John S., Hagelin, et al., Effects of Group Practice of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Preventing Violent Crime in Washington, DC: Results of the National Demonstration Project, June-July 1993, Social Indicators Research, 47, 2, 153-201, 1999.
David W. Orme-Johnson, International Peace Project in the Middle East – The Effects of Maharishi Technology of the United Field, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 32, 1988 pp 776-812.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, Racial Harmony: The Role of Religion and Spirituality is Essential, To Appear in Dialogue and Alliance, December 2021.
(Dialogue and Alliance is a publication of the Universal Peace Federation, a New York City-based international organization with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Cultural Council).
Pradeep B. Deshpande and James P. Kowall, Boost Your Immune Response to Covid, Letter to the Editor, India Currents. May 18 2021.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, Decoding the Significance of Indian-American Heritage, India Currents magazine, April 9, 2021
Pradeep B. Deshpande, Why America is at the Crossroads and How China Can Emerge as a Benign Superpower, Scientific God Journal, March 2021.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, Actualizing the New Statement, Business Mandate, Madras Management Association, March 2021.
Bruce Kasanoff, How to Measure and Enhance Your Intuition, Forbes.com, November 26, 2020.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, Disruptive Innovation, Mumbai Dabbawalas Website, 2020.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, Transforming India and Indian Businesses, Business Mandate, Madras Management Association, October 2020. pp. 55-57.
Pradeep B. Deshpande, The Secret of Exemplary Performance, BizEd, August 2019.