Monday, February 21, 2011

Freedom; for all?

Our African friends, out to play at sunrise, home by dark.
Freedom: and Democracy.
   "Children and dogs run free!"  It makes you long for childhood again.  Kids are safe, loved, and watched over by adults who shape their world.  Adults make the rules, make the schedule, supply the things that are needed as best they can.  And who watches over the adults?  Communities do, I suppose, and government watches over it all.

Thus we arrive at a question of personal freedom.  There are individuals and cultures that want to be closer to the childlike life where they are watched over and cared for.  Then there are countries like my own that are pretty emphatic about freedom to live as we please.  We sometimes presume that our version of freedom is universally desired, but the truth is otherwise.  Many have come to America and been overwhelmed by the number of choices and decisions required to make it through any given day.  They've been stunned, overloaded, and gone back where they started where rules and choices are more narrowly shaped.

Now we watch as the Arab Spring blooms across Africa and the middle east.  At issue - freedom?  Yes.  Justice?  Yes!  And the 'American Way'?  No!  It will be many years before the body of law to support an emerging democracy will look familiar to us, and every institution must be restructured.  As we observe the eruption, it's worth listening and noting the differences. 

I'd prefer a safer, more stable and predictable world perhaps, but until mercy and justice reign, I'll stick with democracy and government by the people.  As a form of government, it sucks big-time; it's just better than the alternatives.

Western style freedom, then, isn't a truly universal value, as a friend pointed out the other day.  But fairness, justice, mercy, compassion; such things call to us so insistently.