Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Love It Or Leave It!

Things have been in turmoil in the Arab Republic of Egypt for more than a week. Many people have said they want freedom, democracy, the right to elect their leaders.
I wonder if they have any idea how expensive that is, how confusing when campaign promises are made but not kept, when candidates will say one thing but do the bidding of those who have bankrolled the campaigns?
Bless their hearts, they want to try.
I applaud their dreams and aspirations, because some of these young voices have been clamoring for precisely the things we have told ourselves are the hallmarks of the United States of America and why we think of ourselves (rightly or wrongly) as exceptional.
But I also remember a time when a whole generation of us felt unheard and disenfranchised by the very system we would be compelled to serve through the military draft in a time of protracted war that had devolved into a horrendously costly stalemate. Sure, some protesters chanted things that sounded like anarchy. But not all. Some simply wanted the system to function in practice as it was designed and legally bound to function on paper.
80% of the 58,000+ names on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, "the Wall", were not old enough to vote. They could be trusted to fight and die for the flag and "freedom" (the freedom, possibly, of another nation; America's freedom was never in doubt in the Vietnam War), but they could not be trusted to vote until age 21.
My daughter's eyes bulged a couple of weeks ago when I told her that. She had no idea the voting age had not always been 18.
Some spoke out. Others watching assumed that those speaking out did not love their country, that speaking out and demonstrating were inconsistent with love of country. As though the first Boston Tea Party had never happened--or had not been illegal.
So the response of some became:
America--Love It or Leave It.
I wonder if any of the ruling class in Egypt are out on the streets of Cairo today yelling "Egypt--Love It or Leave It" at the masses wanting change.
How do we best love our country?
How do we best love God and our neighbors as ourselves?

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