Thursday, July 4, 2013
Freedom isn't yadda, yadda, yadda....*
The above is from Egypt, where the military served a fairly unpopular president, Mohammed Morsi, with a colossal pink slip for just not doing it for them. I don't know an awful lot about Egyptian politics, but that's all right--that feeling is probably going around, because it looks an awful lot to me like Egyptian politics is getting invented. And even though they aren't by any means in for clear sailing now that they have rid themselves of another burdensome leader in what must seem like a hot minute, I can't help but feel something like awe when I see the massive protests there, or the demonstrations happening in Turkey, and consider that humankind is always in a state of revolution, somewhere on this planet. We hope, we dream, we imagine better things--and once in a while, we even work together to do them.
It being the tag-end of July 4th as I write, I think that sometimes, USA-ians like myself do think of freedom, democracy, progress, like it was, you know. Our thing. But I think the main ideal that our founders stood for was that striving for democracy, for self-governance, for responsive and responsible government, should be everyone's thing. So when I see those fireworks there, it makes me kvell a little for them, even while my neighbors are setting off their Independence Day displays. Freedom should be everyone's thing.
At the same time, though, I can't help but think it means something more when self-determination does mean just that. There are limits to the degree of support that the US can provide to those who seek it, without actually kind of getting in their way. It's why I despised the argument that we should have anything to do with provoking regime change in Iraq, why I was dubious that our assistance in Libya would do us any favors, why I am damn glad the US kept it's nose out of Iran's Green Revolution, and support us not really breathing down Egypt's neck with offers of too much help. It's why I deplore the potential for our over-involvement in Syria, all hints of proxy war aside.
Maybe we could be Lafayette. But we can't do more, because that just isn't helping. Freedom is a double-edged sword, and taking on the cause of another's freedom is noble, but fraught with sharp bits.
(Yes, I know. I "yadda, yadda, yadda'd" freedom. I have so little decorum, it's not even funny.)