Welcome aboard! Welcome into the democratic process ALL those who want to see it succeed—even those who have been opposing it to this point. (By the way, for those of you Insurgents reading this who oppose the “American” idea of democracy—don’t forget that democracy is MUCH older that America, and has its roots back in ancient Greece—so in fact a growing democratic mindset in the Islamic world is not really an “Americanization” after all!) Drift with me in your minds, if you would to another election, back in January… If you will recall, that election, too, was much less violent than anticipated. Yet Saturday was “a big, big, huge difference” over the election day in January, an Army interpreter, Mike Saad was quoted as saying in Stars and Stripes. The Associated Press said of Saturday that despite the fears of U.S. and Iraqi leaders, a day that “could become bloody turned out to be the most peaceful in months.” Voter turn-out among the Sunni’s was reported as being dramatically up from their boycott in January.
The Sunni boycott in January was obviously a “vote” against the democratic process—or was it? “Democracy” is not about putting a mark on a piece of paper so much as is it a combination of “the people” making their voice heard in a peaceful way, and the governing bodies responding to the voice of the people. Didn’t that happen with the boycott in January? The boycott was a peaceful way of having the voice of the people heard, that was then responded to by the governing officials. Despite the fact that many Sunni stayed away from the polls in January, and despite the Sunni being a minority, the interim government has done a remarkable job of bending over backward to include their minority voice in the constitutional process. The dramatic increase of Sunni participation this time around, is in and of itself a sign of at least hope, if not confidence, in the democratic process as well.
Many have been concerned that with Sunni support, the new constitution will be scrapped and they will have to start over—but then isn’t that also the democratic process at work? The fact that attacks were not only down remarkably, but almost non-existent on Saturday is also very significant (and why didn’t the media highlight that big news??). As I interpret that sign of the times, I conclude one of two things: either the insurgents are also secretly banking on the democratic process actually working (now THAT’s a great vote!), or the partnership between Iraqi and Coalition security forces is working well—either conclusion is a great sign of hope!
At dinner last night, I was with a couple of Americans, a British and a German officer, all having a wonderfully jolly time and conversation. The fact that our nations had all fought viciously against each other was commented on, as was the strong friendship that we now share, even amidst some continued differences. That is the real hope of the democratic spirit—that enemies can become friends, and can remain friends, even amidst differences. Doesn’t the Quran itself say that when you return good for evil, "You will see your direst enemy has become your closest friend" (41:34)? And another voice, dearly loved as a prophet in both Islam and Christianity put it this way: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”