We are rarely as in control as we would like to think. It seems to me that we always attempt to persuade everyone else and fool ourselves – whether as individuals, groups, churches, assemblies, governments, dictators, et.el. – that we are the masters of our own destiny. We put forth with much bravado our grand plans and schemes which we believe will secure our security, our affluence, our prestige, and our power. Yet, nature and world events so often thwart our best laid plans. Unexpected situations arise so quickly that we can’t respond soon enough, and if we finally do we generally respond with violence of word or deed.
The events these past couple of weeks in Tunisia and now in Egypt have the potential to change everything having to do with world affairs. If the Arab world is to realize freedom, a measure of prosperity, human dignity, justice and the rule of law, even peace, well, all these things will have to be won by the people themselves – against their own oppressors whomever they may be. The reality is that the U.S. has come to be seen not as the defenders of liberty, but the supporters of dictators and corruption. The world is not rejecting the ideals of our Founding Fathers, but of the increasingly bankrupt nature of our culture.
The problem the U.S. faces, which we should have known before the little warrior (whether it was actually him or his adviser manipulators) sent off our troops to invade Iraq, is that we cannot impose something like freedom, democracy, the rule of law, or security unless the people themselves both buy into it and are the vanguard in seeing it through. If the people believe they don’t have a stake in the whole affair, I don’t see how it will honestly work.
True revolutionary movements are not planned, they happen. We can plan for eventualities; we can even attempt to cause the “revolution,” but we are rarely as in control as we would like to think. The fall of the Soviet empire, the shedding of dictators across the globe – the throwing off of oppression has to be the work of the local people. We can aid the effort; and if we live up to the best of our ideals we will aid, not cause, the profoundly disruptive and often horribly violent events that are often necessary to throw off tyranny, but the aspirations of local peoples for freedom, dignity, the rule of law, and peace have to be precede and be the under-girding for the aid to actually help and not hinder.
From an international affairs perspective, what is happening right now in the Middle East is striking. We shall see whether it is the right time for the people to rise up and demand something better of their governments and their rulers. Once again, for politically expedient reasons (which, sometimes, is justifiable) we have supported a more-brutal-than-not dictator. The people are rising up against the corrupt dictator and his government. We are, once again, on the wrong side because our concern is not for the freedom and dignity of the Egyptian people, but for our political interests in the area.
The people know this, despite the billions we give to Egypt in foreign aid. Where that aid goes might be a wise question to ask, but only if we
really want to know the answers and if we might truly do something about
the problem. The people know this and so do not
see the U.S. as the defenders of freedom and dignity, but as the
supporters of their oppressors.
So, our embassy is attacked. We wonder why. We make the excuse in order to absolve us of any guilt in contributing to the oppressive regime that these are just enemies of the U.S., jealous of our prosperity, enemies of freedom-loving peoples everywhere, but the people in the streets want freedom and security and so they simply attack the symbol and the power behind the corrupt government that rules over them. We bare the unintended consequences of our actions, our neglect, our profound hubris.
There is just the sense in me that we are on the cusp of significant
change in our political, social, and economic structures, world-wide.
We like to think we have things under control, but suddenly everything
changes. We are in such times and heading more deeply into a
fundamental shift. I’m not sure where the shift will takes us, but it