I asked a dumb question the other night at work. It was dumb because in some respect it revealed how snobbish I can be, while suffering from the dreaded disease of all blowhards, Braggadocios. And as for most braggarts go, the more they talk, the more they show, just how little they actually know. My friend who gave me the answer to my dumb question was kind enough and gracious enough not to let my foolishness get in the way of some real clear understanding.
My friend is a young man from Burma. (Recently, the major rail line I work for has hired quite a few men from Burma.) I found out from my friend that Burma is controlled by a military regime. It’s been that way for the last forty odd years. And as most tyrannical governments are, they don’t take to kindly to criticisms of the way they run their business. In fact, the way they deal with complaints is either prison or the firing squad.
So this American, who has had some minute education in the ways of the world, asks – “So what type of government is it, communist, fascist, socialist?”
Then came the response that snap me back into the realities that my friend’s fellow countrymen are currently living in. “Who cares what political ideology is in office, good and innocent people are being killed for wanting to be free!”
I tell you, as an American, I was ashamed. I was ashamed for being naïve thinking that political ideologies whatever they might be, are better than the next. My friend is correct. When the government is killing their own decent and innocent people for the simplest of reasons; wanting to be free, then the governing political system is wrong and needs to be changed if people’s survival of that country is to endure.
I was further ashamed in that the freedom that these good people want is nothing more than just a hollow word to me. But how have I forgotten what freedom is? I can remember the joy I felt as the protests were taking place in Tiananmen Square of the late eighties. It was the youth that were taking hold of what our forefathers taught and believed and were willing to live it out. I can remember smiling at the fantastic scenes of the Berlin Wall collapsing under the power of all kinds of hammers - ball peen, jackhammer and sledgehammers. Furthermore all in the name of freedom and all done by people yearning to be free. When my Father’s generation liberated France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Philippines and the entire south pacific from evil political philosophies, the indigenous people rejoice at the coming of their liberators for they knew freedom was at hand.
So why did I miss this question? I think it has to do with the current status that we find ourselves in here in the states. When dealing with world matters, or so it seems, for us and our feeble minds, its turn to an us vs. them, red vs. blue, Dems vs. Republicans. If we’re having disagreements and stalemates in government, it’s always the opposition fault. Some wanna-be political office seeker might think when posed a question of a core issue such as freedom and democracy is, “How does it play in Iowa?” or some one else might think, if they have an original opinion on liberating an oppressed people somewhere on the planet, “If I lean in this direction how will the polls interrupt this?” So when I hear that a government is acting very poorly against its own people, I start looking for an excuse to blame the opposition. I do what we do best in this country; you exploit people just to prove your point. I sometimes get so disgusted with politicians!
Our elected officials often hear about real trouble facing freedom seeking people in the world or how a despot is wrecking havoc with its people and when asked about it, they give it a thirty second lip service job saying – “I’m glad you asked, by the way…I’ve got a plan” but it never deals with the core issue of freedom and democracy; two foundational tenets that we established our government and way of life on. Imagine, what we Americans bring to the world table, freedom, and our elected heroes back away from the subject like Superman from Kryptonite. How is it that the people we send to draw up our laws underestimate freedom’s power?
The more I read, the more I understand; that freedom is found in every heart of every person here on earth. And that this freedom that we all desire has a religious tone to it – a universal axiom, if you will, that all mankind has a right too and if anyone government tries to suppress it, it should be considered a most grievous crime.
Freedom trumps all ideologies. In fact, all ideologies should have freedom as their ultimate goal. But they don’t. All religions should have freedom as their ultimate goal. But they don’t. I’m connecting the two because I believe that God and His glorious wisdom and keen insight into the human heart, has planted the seed of freedom. A freedom that means not being mastered by oppression as in sin, tyranny as in evil personified; but a freedom that is light to carry and security from all fears. Perhaps I just described what the dynamics of Heaven would be.
My friend and fellow co-workers have tasted the freedoms that we offer to the world. Per chance, they have enough of a fill to bring the people of Burma to the table of freedom and let them dine on its delights.