Thursday, January 20, 2005

freedom ringing?

After watching the inauguration speech done by George W. Bush, I have a few reflections.

First of all, I think it should be mandatory that all Presidents take a public communications class. I am not a huge fan of Clinton, but it was so much easier to listen to his speeches. Bush pretty much stinks as a public communicator. His content isn't too bad. Its his delivery that needs work. One would think that after four years of giving speeches on a regular basis as President, that his skills would have improved. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Secondly, he spoke mostly about freedom. It seems that his overall view of the world, government, the war, and humanity is that freedom is a primal urge that cannot be thwarted. He wants America to be the nation that supports, enforces and upholds "free democracy" (for Bush these two words are one and the same) around the world.

Though he isn't allowed to talk about it, I believe Bush is a sincere Christian. I also think that his theo-political equation for the world is this: democracy = freedom = freedom of religion = the opportunity to learn about and meet Christ. I don't know if this is actually his view, but it seems logical.

There are a few problems inherent in this equation. I have some questions. Is the price of war worth the kind of freedom that comes with democracy? Does democracy offer the kind of freedom that we are all longing for deep down? (First century Christians living in a violently oppressive empire still found freedom that changed their lives.) Are there necessary evils involved in moving toward necessary goods?

Maybe Bush has the equation sort of right but is working backwards. Maybe history went the other way: people meet Christ = nations with freedom of religion = freedom = democracy. So could it work the other way around? After all, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are all experiencing free elections. Free elections always seem to be the beginning of democracy. Wouldn't a democratic Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine stabilize the Middle East?

Though I really struggle with the war, I am excited about the possibility of women having rights in places like Afghanistan. I am excited about the opportunity for churches to be planted in Iraq. I am excited about Palestinians being provided for by their own government rather than depending on the handouts from Israel.

But am I allowed to oppose war and then celebrate the results of war? Is that not hypocritical? Real freedom isn't brought about by force. But force sure seems to open the door for it. We saw this truth in play during WWII when the Jews were liberated from Nazi prison camps. And it seems like we are seeing it again in our time. I wonder what Bonhoeffer would have to say today if he were an Iraqi or an Afghani.


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