Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Dance?

Have you ever considered the danger of democracy?  Throughout the middle east we’re seeing people clamoring for freedom.  They might get what they dream of.  Then what?  A country like ours has a disciplined history of freedom and democratic process.  We vote rascals in, then out.  It’s fairly seamless and certainly bloodless.  We take it for granted but it’s become the habit of our republic.  We hold free elections at regular intervals.  The will of the people prevails.  And other than some sour dispositions and ugly innuendo we manage to move easily into ‘what’s next’.

Freedom is filled with rights but also responsibility.  A vote is either for a winner or loser.  We understand that.  What might happen in places where rights are being demanded but the requisite habits of political responsibility might not be yet acquired? It could get ugly.

Beyond that the will of the people in the middle east might easily conflict with the interests we have as a country.  Will that be OK with us?  If a majority of people in Country X want to vote in a repressive, Muslim government will we be happy that the will of the people has been honored? Probably not.  That’s part of the conundrum we’re faced with in today’s world.  Hurrah for freedom and democratic elections.  Thumbs down if the vote doesn’t go our way.  But thumbs up for caring about people living in humane environments.

What we’re  watching in the middle east is either the answer to our most fervent prayers or the unleashing of our worst nightmares.

Naively we think that freedom will result in some sort of dance of happiness between a middle east country and the USA.  Perhaps all we can reasonably hope for is that there will be a dance and we’ll be invited to watch.  It might very well be a dance that we aren’t prepared for and certainly don’t know the right steps or the proper rhythms.

The next few months will be interesting.  It’s the beginning, I think, of a huge learning curve for us in the west.  Voters, who don’t think very highly of us, might choose to send us a message while trying to reform their country.  We probably won’t like what we’re being told in many cases.

What an opportunity for us, huh?  We might learn some things about our collective selves that might lead to healthy reforms in our national consciousness.  We dare not think that our own house doesn’t need cleaning.  For as much good as we do around the world we are still thought of in some quarters as arrogant people who can be truly exasperating.

As others around the world move forward into uncharted waters we have a wonderful opportunity to do some personal and national soul searching.  Our own political waters are being churned.  It’s good for us to navigate some difficult currents.  Maybe God is trying to get the attention of all of us around the world. 

It's a good time to be alive.  Interesting chapters of history are being written.  We can choose to either be a willing or a reluctant character in this fascinating narrative.  Stay prayerful. Stay alert.  Get involved. 

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