A weeks worth of the New York Times gives me so much to talk about, I scarcely know where to begin. But I will begin and end with events in the Arab world. A dictator toppled by his people, and revolution spreading. Young people who surf the net and communicate through Twitter and Facebook can no longer be told that a dictator is acting in their best interests. George Bush said we needed to ‘spread democracy’, but in truth, democracy isn’t democracy if it’s forced on a people. If it’s only offered to those we think we can control. The events in Egypt, Tunisia and now in many other pockets of the Middle East are proof that democracy is best – strongest and most persuasive – when it comes from within. From the oppressed people themselves. Just as it did in our country over 200 years ago. Will it succeed in Egypt and other countries as it did here? I don’t know, but I am hopeful.
Why am I hopeful? Well, no one thought a ragtag bunch of ruffian colonials could successfully govern themselves, but we did. In the South before Emancipation, slave owners were fond of saying that slaves would never be able to handle freedom – they were too ignorant, or violent, or savage. But they weren’t.
Sadly, I’ve heard the same said about Arabic peoples. That they don’t really know what they want. That they would not be able to handle democracy. That all they know is violence and rule by force. Hopefully 80 million Egyptians are about to prove the naysayers wrong.
I am also hopeful because of my kids. We got our world map out today and found all the Arab countries in which protesters are trying to follow Tunisia and Egypt’s lead. It’s quite impressive, and we talked about why this is happening. I asked them how they would feel if they lived in a place where they weren’t allowed to say what they believed for fear of being arrested or killed. They said, “Well no one would want to live that way.” And of course they are right. The fact that they don’t question any person’s right to live in freedom and peace means that there is a greater chance for success – if not right now then in the future, as more and more young people like them grow up. For them freedom is not something that is conditional upon your religion or skin color or country of birth. Those things are irrelevant to the natural state of humankind – freedom.