Friday, December 7, 2007

Can Democracy Survive in the Middle East?

Our founding fathers made an astounding declaration to the tyrannical King of England in the late 1700's, stating that it is the natural order of humanity that we are endowed with Life, Liberty, and the freedom to Pursue Happiness. In doing so, they were effectively signing their own execution papers, should a Revolution Fail. But what they did was more than profound in a philosophical sense... it was the essential beginning to a people becoming self governing.

Their basis rejecting being ruled by the King of England was not in favor of rule by a church in their own land, rather a recognition of the basic rights of humanity, and building on that principle, founding a government of the people.

Now it is well discussed that during the American Revolution there were about 1/3 who were "gung-ho" for fighting the British, about 1/3 who decided to stay neutral, and about 1/3 who remained loyal to the crown. The Revolution came about on a political and militaristic front, keeping opposition at bay while maintaining and winning the war.

So now, I want to consider the requirements for freedom, and ask whether the people in the Middle East can actually survive in a democracy, and enjoy liberty.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." - Benjamin Franklin

All of the countries of the middle east seem to have a Theocratic form of government... even the more secular countries are still under increased pressure from the Muslim Leaders. The theocratic rule is impossible to contest, because the laws and enforcement of those laws are the "word of god" (sic). And as we have seen in the last few years, the theocratic radicals are highly motivated to fight for maintaining their form of prophetic doctrine by ruling over the people with fear of having "god's punishment" handed to you. This would represent the 1/3 loyal to the crown, or in this case, loyal to their religious leaders.

In countries like Sudan, you are not only killed for being Christian, but you are sentenced to death without trial by the people for allowing a teddy bear to be named "Muhammad". In Saudi Arabia, you are not allowed to make the mark "X" as it too closely resembles the Christian Cross... punishment could include life imprisonment. In Iran you are hanged for homosexuality.

What we see is the ability for a democracy to be created, and to survive... if Democracy, in the crudest terms, simply meant "Majority Rule"... but American Democracy is something different... something that can not exist in that part of the world without drastic changes. American Democracy includes Liberty. The ability to lose a vote, but challenge the outcome... to be wrong, but still be heard... to live how one chooses without fear of persecution or death for choices... the only place where the mind, body, and spirit can be free (current government oversteps excluded - we are talking ideology here). In these countries, you do not have the same respect for basic human rights... You do not have the freedom to protest, not even in order to stay your own execution.

The 1/3 who want change in these countries cannot say so for fear of death. The other 1/3 seem content, until their son or daughter is killed by masked men because they were seen showing too much skin or not praying the correct way.

"Fear is the foundation of most governments." - John Adams

"...give me liberty, or give me death!" - Patrick Henry - March 23, 1775

If Democracy is becoming a gift given to people, misused by electing leadership that promises to harm others for political or religious gain... then Democracy is little more than a mob rule. We can fight to give it to any and all countries.. Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine... and it is a gift in which there is no understanding of the meaning, or the intent. The people are sure to squander it, and will find themselves once again in bondage.

But if Liberty is a prerequisite for Democracy, and the understanding of the principles of basic human rights are fully understood... well, then my friends, we will surely see a Middle East destined to be free.

Have we seen signs of this happening? For sure, there have been some. In Iraq, the people have begun rising up against the terrorists, fighting for their own peace. So there are signs of hope... but they are as brief flashes in a sea of despair. One can only hope that Liberty as well as Democracy takes hold in the Middle East, and true freedom and peace will prevail.

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