I feel compelled to quote the words I heard growing up – so inspiring – from our founding fathers:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. . .”
We’ve heard these words thousands of times over the years, but read them again. . .I’ll wait. . .focus on this:
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
This is one of those “unalienable rights” you hear so much about. This is said so matter of factly. In 1776, this was revolutionary! In fact, the people who were writing this had come from a sysem in which their leaders were born into leadership. There was no vote. There was a line of succession. This concept of governing by the governed was so successful, even totalitarian dictatorships feel the need to at least pretend to have a vote. In fact, most totalitarian dictatorships call their regimes names which indicate that the people are all in favor of being oppressed. Names like the “People’s Republic of China,” or the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” two of the most oppressive regimes in the world. But why do these countries feel the need to at least put up a front of democracy?
The reason is because of the United States! We have shown that the freedom of the human spirit is the most powerful force on the face of the earth. It has the power to stop tanks in their tracks, as we saw in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It has the power to overthrow the largest empire of the 20th Century, as we saw in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block, including the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, also in the 1989. And it has the power to turn a country from one who enslaves a race of people to electing a member of that race as their leader! These oppressive regimes must put up this front in order to have any shred of legitimacy in the community of nations. Some don’t even bother holding fake elections, but some do, which leads us to Iran.
I have always heard and believed that you can’t have a little bit of freedom. It’s like being a little bit pregnant: either you are or you are not. So imagine the surprise of the people of Iran when they realized once and for all that they, in fact, do NOT have a say in who their government will be. They did their part. They campaigned, they voted. And they were cheated. No doubt, they have seen the dramatic changes taking place just next door in Iraq. No doubt they are questioning why they can’t have the same marriage of Islam and self-government that is being afforded to the Iraqis. And certainly, they are questioning why, if the US cares about the freedom of Iraqis, doesn’t it care about the freedom of Iranians. Well, it does! As President Obama said in Cairo earlier this month, “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed. . .”
Some have criticized President Obama for not being outspoken enough in support of the demonstrators in Iran. I’m not going to debate that here. For diplomacy’s sake, he must walk a fine line and I’ll leave that to him to determine where that line is. But I would like to add my voice to the millions here in the states and hundreds of millions around the world who are cheering them on. Hopefully, this will lead to the kind of change we saw in 1989 and 1776!