With Liberty and Justice for All?

While the world obsesses over the World Cup, Putin continues his absorption of Ukraine. It’s easy to get distracted with the IRS cover-up, kidnapped teens in Israel, crumbling of Iraq, Thailand teetering near anarchy, and Anthrax loose at the CDC.

The liberals were right, you can’t force democracy on anyone. It may be a good system, but as John Adams told us, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In college forty-plus years ago I studied whether non-Christian religions could accept Christianity. My conclusion was that some could (those who admit the worth of individuals) and (through interviews with Buddhists, Hindus and Shintoists–no Moslems, I was in Hawaii in the 60s) I found varying degrees of enthusiasm and cynicism over the democratic prospect. Just like among Christians. Democracy can “take” in any soil, but it’s most likely to thrive where people respect one another.

Most of the world doesn’t qualify. For many of them an election is just a means of legitimizing a would-be dictator. Civil rights are a smokescreen for discrimination. Bureaucrats are the foot soldiers of repression. (As we’re seeing here.)

Trust building takes generations. Those ignorant of American history do not realize that partisan infighting during the first fifty years of our republic was brutal, culminating with a civil war which killed a generation (almost 2% of the total population).

Democracy is not for the weak. It’s not that it’s the best possible form of government; it’s the best considering how corrupt we are. Even so, it takes a forbearance and civility which most of the world lacks.

Some suggests we lack it too. Let’s prove them wrong.

 

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One thought on “With Liberty and Justice for All?

  1. I was always puzzled hearing the Bush, Rice etc. really thought Iraq and later Afghanistan could be shown democracy and were ready for it. The photos of tribal folks, camels, markets, deserts etc. reminded me of my years of Bible study at an Episcopal school. Democracy was never even considered possible. Tribal living was considered another way of life suited to the topography. I appreciated this viewpoint. And my Episcopal school wasn’t especially liberal, the staff was just highly educated.

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