The Universal Quest for Freedom

One theme in history, literature and drama that never fails to move me is that of a courageous people willing to stand up against oppression. I have loved returning to the thirteen original colonies with the reminders of the American Revolution everywhere present. My favorite play, which I’ve seen several times around the world, is Les Miserables. Its themes of grace and redemption, and images of idealistic students banding together to fight in the barricades of Paris in 1832, give me goose bumps.

I’ve hesitated to comment on the current uprisings throughout the Middle East because I know so little. But what I can see is that the contagion of these protests is reminiscent of Eastern Europe in 1989. The quest for freedom has spread like chicken pox from Egypt to Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia and Libya. The images of jubilant rebels taking over a local radio station in an eastern Libyan city could have been juxtaposed beside Romanians doing the same 21 years earlier. Change is happening before the worlds’ eyes, and that is thrilling and frightening all at the same time.

Another thing I know is that nobody can predict the outcome. If the rebels are victorious, will that lead to democracy and become a bridge toward peace, or will it lead to a takeover by a more radical group? What will this mean for the United States and the rest of the world? With skyrocketing gas prices, hopefully we have a greater sense of urgency for our need to extract our own energy, conserve, and not depend on foreign oil.

Perhaps the rebels won’t win. They appear to be losing steam. The revolts in Hungary in 1956, Prague in 1968, and Tiananmen Square in 1989 did not suceed. Still, the fact that the people themselves have summoned the courage to say, "Enough!" and to possibly die in order to be set free, has informed their governments that they are a force to be reckoned with. 

As people created in the image of God, we all have something within us that longs for beauty, peace, freedom, and justice. The people of Libya have long been enslaved by an evil and deluded dictator, Gadhafi. He’s cut out of the same ilk as Ceausescu, Hussein, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Khomeini, Hitler and Stalin. It is right that they try to oust him. But lasting peace and true freedom can only be found through the person of Jesus Christ. My ultimate prayer for them is that they will somehow encounter that freedom which can never be taken away.

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