FREEDOM TO CHOOSE OR FREEDOM TO IMPOSE?
Certainly, there is no question that we have been slaves far too long of the disinformation that has been foisted on practically all of humanity since the earliest days of civilization.
But the challenge of freeing ourselves from the misconceptions that have been ingrained into us since birth is not quite as simple as it may seem. It is not nearly enough that we advocate for all kinds of "freedom" with the best of intentions, noble as it may seem. As the saying goes, the road to hell is littered with good intentions.
Rather, it is necessary to first look within ourselves and understand the depth, breadth, motives and meaning of whatever we are advocating lest we are simply co-opted by those with ulterior motives, misled by our unrecognized "programmed" biases or ultimately made to face some dire unforeseen consequences of our success.
Take for example the ever-increasing destruction caused by forest fires in California that seem to be a direct result of the overwhelming success of environmental protectionists who have practically rendered proper forest management, which may have prevented them or at least minimized the damage and deaths, impossible.
In the Philippines, we have a President who was elected by a landslide despite an apparently determined effort to cheat him. His significantly successful efforts to restore peace and order have caused him to be branded by some international quarters as a dictator and violator of human rights despite his massive public support which probably makes him the MOST POPULAR LEADER of any country in the world!
Remarkably, the minority who loudly and noisily proclaim him the as worst sort of tyrant and dictator have been quite free to do so, TOTALLY unharassed, unpunished and unmolested!
It is a paradox that many who so stridently demand freedom are in fact the first to deny it to those who oppose them!
Take for example the demands for respect of religious freedom by those who demand that only halal food be served in public schools in the US! The same schools which have been forbidden to pray and display crosses because of separation of Church and State!
So with the LGBT's who demand same-sex marriages be respected but are livid at those who will not bake cakes for their weddings due to their own religious beliefs?
Where then is freedom if we oblige everyone to accept and respect our beliefs but decline to recognize and respect the beliefs of those whom we do not agree with?
Can we not simply be FREE to agree or disagree and FREE to live and let live?
And it is the government of the US itself, "the land of the free", which is perhaps the most guilty of this conundrum.
The fact is that in the name of "freedom & democracy", it has bombed more countries to ruin, killed millions more innocent civilians and taken control of more land and resources than even Hitler was ever able to manage!
And yet it is firmly planted in the minds of most Americans, including the most "freedom" oriented, that China and North Korea which have never even attacked any other country are the most despicable regimes! Never mind Russia.
The US condemns China for building up and occupying a few deserted rocks in the sea but feels quite justified in the destruction it has been foisting on the Middle East for DECADES. It even has military bases in Syria which it simply built because it could and wanted to, contrary to all norms of diplomacy! The US is at war with Syria even if Syria is not at war with the US! How is that? Because Assad is a dictator?
Most Americans have this implanted belief that the Chinese are such unfortunate souls who would do so much better if they could only be MADE to FOLLOW the US model of "democracy"!
But what might most Chinese really believe, notwithstanding the other American myth that everyone in China, North Korea and Russia, like the rest of the world is just begging to become American?
Now, before anything else, this post is not meant to promote or side with China. I am merely using it to make a point. I could use many other countries as well but it would be endless :)
The actual story is that before WWII, there was already a struggle between the Kuomintang government that succeeded the Empire and the Communists. Kuomintang was backed by the West and the Communists backed by the USSR. After they were obliged to work together to get rid of the Japanese, they again went at each other in a brutal battle for China.
What Americans have been conveniently made to ignore is that the "hero of US democracy" Chiang Kai-shek, was so much better equipped and supported by the US and its allies than the Communists were by Russia. And yet he was still roundly beaten and had to flee to Taiwan.
It was actually the Chinese people's massive support of the Communist side more than anything else that caused the birth of the People's Republic of China. But is that not the very essence of democracy? People choosing their own manner of government, for better or for worse? So the FREE choice of a great majority of the people was morally and condemnably WRONG simply because it was "against democracy"?
Then followed many years of trials and tribulations for the Chinese people. But that was to be expected of a totally war-ravaged land setting up a totally new form of government.
Unlike the US which has never experienced war on its own soil since the Civil War and never quite thoroughly destroyed, China was practically reduced to rubble through prolonged and savage warfare. And unlike the US, which did not have to contend with external opposition or subversion while it was rebuilding, China had to contend with a very pissed US which had missed its chance to put its stooge and "American democracy" at the helm of what would have been the biggest prize of all. This was the "Cold War".
So basically, the Chinese had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps with what little help the USSR could provide vis-a-vis the enormity of the country and its population. Certainly, many grave mistakes were made, some of which persist till today just as all governments do. But to demonize and condemn China's leaders as tyrants and dictators as the US has made the Western world to believe is probably not quite accurate either.
To expect that a US style system of government would have avoided all their hardships is naive speculation at best and certainly not a reason to DENY THEM THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE THEIR OWN DESTINY as they have apparently managed to do despite the best efforts of the US. Neither is it a reason for eternal condemnation and disrepute. Many other countries have not been so resilient and fortunate.
To reflexively demean and dismiss the determined, unrelenting efforts of the patriotic Chinese leaders and people who met the heroic challenge to move forward and to make China what it has become today as has been programmed into the minds of the pro-Western world population is rather shallow and simple-minded thinking.
Certainly, China could never have come as far as it has had it been ruled by malevolent despots enslaving and preying on the population for their own selfish ends.
China had been ruled by monarchies and empires for thousands of years. To transition from Empire and to lead and manage such a huge land and diverse population was certainly perhaps the biggest challenge of the 20th century and one which they have already apparently succeeded in doing.
Sure, China took far longer than Germany, Japan and South Korea to move forward. But then again, no one was trying to undermine those countries which were also small enough for reasonable amounts of aid to be of much use either. That Taiwan became the progressive country that it is so much faster is as much a result of its diminutive size and the massive support given it as it is the industry of the people.
(credit: Daily Mail)
And so China has become the world power that the US has always feared it would become. True, it is still far behind in terms of GDP and per capita income, having a population almost 4 times that of the US. But while it is certainly not as advanced as the US, still, it does not owe the US anything. Rather, despite the huge disparity in GDP and per capita income, it is in fact the biggest foreign creditor of the US.
And it has accomplished what it has through trade, industry and diplomacy which seems infinitely more sustainable rather than by subversion, bombing, coercion and invasion.
As for the fight between democracy and communism, it seems the communists have learned their lessons without too many other people of the world paying the price.
So when will the "democrats" start learning theirs and at what price?
At the end of it all, is freedom a matter of IMPOSING ON OTHERS what we believe or perhaps more often than not, WHAT WE HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE is "right" simply because WE CAN?
Or is the better definition of freedom the ability to freely pursue one's destiny while respecting those of others?
I would like to believe that the most important freedom is simply the freedom to become better human beings.
(Opening image credit: Radiant Life Church)