America is striving to share the blessings of freedom

Published 4:04 am Sunday, November 19, 2006

On this Thanksgiving Day America is concerned that our version of a democratic form of government may not be understood or embraced in Iraq.

The urgency to export democracy to the Middle East came about when America reacted to the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Within an amazingly short period of time Afghanistan was delivered from the stranglehold of the Taliban and Iraq was free of the demonic regime of Saddam. Both are now struggling to become democracies.

After the fall of Baghdad, when no weapons of mass destruction were found, instead of withdrawing from Iraq, the Administration made the decision that the best way to protect America was to turn the traditional government of Iraq upside down. They were gambling that the Iraqi people would be able turn their nation into a democracy.

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Hopefully, the thousands of years of rule by monarchs, religious leaders, and tribal chiefs would be replaced by a democratic government led by an elected president, elected members of congress, and guided by a duly ratified constitution. In short, the ancient system of government led by a number of tribal leaders would be replaced with democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

In his speech to the people of America, President Bush argued for establishing a democratic state in the very heart of the Arab world. He predicted that such a state could very well become a beacon light for the other countries of the Middle East. In reaction, the radical leaders of the Jihad declared that it is the will of Allah that they dominate the world. Their goal is to build a world based on their interpretation of the Koran. In their view, Christians, Jews, and even the other branches of Islam-must convert to their brand of Islam. All unbelievers must be killed and every true believer must become a killer. This is in direct contrast to the view of the civilized world — the world for which American is fighting.

A friend once asked what my dream for America would be like. My prayer is that America, in attitude and actions, would return to a world like that of the nineteen fifties — the kind of world that Norman Rockwell idealized in his drawings for the cover of Saturday Evening Post. Apparently that dream is still shared by a majority of the citizens of this nation who keep saying to the media and the politicians, “We long for a kinder, gentler, more respectful, more moral world in which to raise our families”.

Rockwell visualized a healthy society in his pictures of life in America. Four of them clearly portrayed the freedoms we have enjoyed these many decades. President Franklin Roosevelt inspired the artist with a speech he made in 1943 in which he identified the four freedoms for which we can thank the good Lord They are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These are the basic principles of a true democracy.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH features a clean-cut middle-aged man in casual clothes standing to speak at a town meeting. His neighbors listen to him with interest and respect.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION shows the worshipful faces of several believers. At the top of the picture, in capitol letters, are the words, EACH ACCORDING TO T0HE DICTATES OF HIS OWN CONSCIENCE.

FREEDOM FROM WANT lets the viewer look in on an extended family seated around the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day. The father is standing at the head of the table waiting for his wife to place a large baked turkey at his plate to be carved and served.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR has a father and mother standing over the bed of their two sleeping children. Remember, this is 1943, London is being bombed nightly, and the children of London are in bomb shelters.

Norman Rockwell identified the source of America’s greatness in THE GOLDEN RULE. Over two dozen persons of different nationalities are pictured to indicate the worldwide application of the words of Jesus. The Golden Rule is the mortar that binds human beings together. Across Rockwell’s picture, in capitol letters, are the words: DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.

During our recent election, many expressed the view that we are living in a fantasy world if we think America can turn ancient Babylonia (Iraq) into a democracy. Clearly, only a good and caring nation would fight for such a dream. Posterity will surely marvel that this generation of Americans went to such great lengths to share the blessings of freedom.

We can all pray that the people of Iraq might someday enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear, and that the words of the prophet Isaiah might come to pass. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2.