Watching the joyous celebrations by the people of Iraq, and the continuing news broadcasts hinting that demonstrators on both sides of the war and anti-war campaign might now be more or less inclined to comment, I began thinking about something.
It is obvious to me that the people of Iraq are happy to be free of Saddam Hussein. I think there is little doubt that his regime was not a pleasant one in which to live. This leads me to believe that at this precise instant, at this limited window of opportunity, the armed forces of the United States have done a good thing.
But that does not mean we did it for the right reasons. The right reason would have been for no reason at all. Except that it needed to be done. No suggestions of post-war rebuilding, no potential enhancement of the pro-Israel element in the region, no possibility that the oil-rich elements in the United States were interested in Iraqi oil. If the REAL reason is the Iraqi people, then the operation was for the right reason.
And it seems obvious that the leader of the free world would have done what we have done so far for that reason alone. Not because Saddam Hussein’s activities supported destructive actions against the US. Not because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological threats and might use them against us, or provide them to others who might use them against us. Not because our national security demanded that American lives must be protected. The leader of the free world would have done it because Iraqi lives needed to be protected. That those weapons were used against ANYONE would be a good enough reason.
Now, obviously there are a lot of places in the world where those who have money are considered to be more important than the poor. Where those who do not practice the “official” religion of a place are prosecuted, persecuted. Where power-brokering behind closed doors determines the course of politics. Where special interests exist. Where any interest is considered more special than others. Where elections are NOT open, fair and non-disputed. Where representatives do not represent all their constituents, but only a select few who can do them favors. Where a political campaign is ABOUT character, rather than CONDUCTED with character. Where bribes are taken. Where there is an old-boy network, a glass ceiling, a double standard, a hidden agenda.
Where the nation’s industry building weapons of mass destruction, armaments, and military strength has a bigger budget than the nation’s education system. Where friends get preferential treatment. Where national boundaries define us and them. Where race, religion, class, creed, sex, orientation, or any difference is seen as an obstacle, an aberration, an abomination. Where freedom of speech does not really mean freedom of speech. Where the accused ARE assumed guilty until proven innocent …
But the leader of the free world is NOT one of those places.
Because the leader of the free world is leading. Teaching compassion, understanding, kindness. Breaking down barriers instead of erecting them. Doing the ethical thing – which is “Thou Before I”. And helping, by whatever means necessary, to promulgate the belief that EVERY person is a human being, an equal, worthy, respectable, interesting, confusing, beautiful, struggling, learning, growing, adapting and EVOLVING being. Because if you teach that, there isn’t any dictatorship that can stand. There is no despot that can wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting populace. There are none with secret grudges that must find their expression only in violence because no one deems them worthy of communication or is willing to accept whatever truth is in their argument.
At some point, if the human race is to survive (at a minimum) or to evolve, all its members must contribute to, and benefit from, that egalitarian ideal. But evolution is not a sudden step. It is not a regime change. It is a slow, painstaking, and ultimately painful process, that must be encouraged because it is the ONLY thing to do, not because it might appear to be the “right” thing to do from within our currently non-fully-evolved frame of reference. At that point, in a completely egalitarian society, individuals will lead when their expertise is required, and follow when it is necessary to defer to the expertise of others. When people recognize their interdependence and honor and value the fact that truth is a pathless land – a land that we each inhabit, each of us standing with a useful pair of feet on a unique, individual piece of truth – but only a piece. Until that occurs, there must be a leader, a master, a guru, so to speak. A leader that does not point the way, but IS the way.
And that leader’s only responsibility is to lead by example. If their example is not good enough, they are not the leader – no matter how much they would like others to think so. The leader of the free world MUST practice what it preaches, or it has no business preaching. And it certainly has NO right to say that its interests are the best interests. But then again, a true leader would never say that to begin with.
So who is the leader of the free world?
Who qualifies on these terms?