2014 was an eventful year for my family. But I don’t want to focus on that but to reflect on the events of the wider world and the relative small town I live in – Walnut Creek.
One hundred years ago Walnut Creek citizens voted to incorporate the city. This year was the celebration of that election. For the last 100 years the city council has met to govern the affairs of the community. It has not always been smooth. There were plenty of arguments. Many were very long meetings. There may have been a fight or two that wasn’t recorded in the official records. There was even a move to reverse the incorporation. Despite the good, bad and not so pretty, the town government still functions.
While Walnut Creek has been bumping along with democracy more or less successfully for the last one hundred years the rest of the world is just learning what democracy is and is not. There are some places where democracy has been practice for much longer than Walnut Creek, but for most of the world it is a totally a new thing.
Looking at a map of the world in 1914 you will find that the world had little experience with democracy.
The Middle East was all part of the Ottoman Empire. None of the countries that now dominate the news existed. They were not even provinces of the Ottoman Empire. They would be created by the winners of World War I.
Likewise the Russian Empire had not fallen to bold vision of communism. It was ruled by an absolute monarchy. Therefore Ukraine, Central Asia and the Caucasus were all subject to the will of the Tsar.
Not stopping with the Russian Empire, the Austria-Hungry Empire also fell at the end of World War I. With its fall all of the Balkan countries were created. We often think that Europe has been there for thousands of years. It has but not in its current form. Many new countries appeared at the end of the War to End All Wars. Their first experience with democracy occurred in the 1920’s. I haven’t even gotten to post colonial Africa and Asia. Democracy is a new concept there as well for the most part.
We shouldn’t be surprised when there are some bumps or major challenges on the road to a robust democracy through out the world. I for one want to congratulate the people of Walnut Creek for persevering and wish them the best in the next 100 years.
Have a very Happy New Year in 2015.
About the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator. He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment. He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.
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