Posted by Unknown |


I just read Bush's inaugural speech.

It was a very good speech. He has good writers. It sounded like a sermon. There were lots of biblical illusions in there. I would have enjoyed giving that speech.

I found it hard to read though and not feel a sense of irony in what he was saying.

“We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.”

I wonder how those in Guantanamo Bay feel about their chains. I wonder how many Iraqis still feel that they are living at the mercy of a bully.

“Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling.”

Again Iraq seems to mock this statement as she continues in violence, and so many oppose (both violently and peaceful) its upcoming elections. Perhaps they want the right to vote, but do they want it now, and at this price?

I found the speech worrying because it seems to be proclaiming America’s God-given right to impose freedom on the rest of the world. How can you enforce freedom anyway? Isn’t that oxymoronic? I know Bush said people must chose it, but do they chose freedom before or after America invades their country?

Perhaps freedom, at least political freedom, shouldn’t be the primary goal of every society anyway. Perhaps a quality of life, and a higher standard of living should be first on the agenda. Perhaps education, clean water, the irradication of preventable deseases should be America’s highest aim in its foreign policy. Perhaps many of the people in the world would give up their rights to vote in a second if it meant they could keep their children alive and free from a life of fear.

Perhaps America could achieve more for freedom, true freedom, by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and healing the sick, than by enforcing democracy through guns and bombs. When they do that, how much more leverage will they have to free the oppressed?

John Stott once wrote (while discussing nuclear war, although I think it is still relevant in this context): “In the end, then, we have to decide which blessing we value the more: social freedom, though at the cost of losing our moral integrity…or moral integrity as a nation, though at the cost of losing our social freedom…If this might one day be the option before us, I hope we should know which to choose. It would be better to suffer physical defeat than moral defeat; better to loose freedom of speech, of assembly, even of religion, than freedom of concience before God. For in his sight integrity is even yet more valuable than liberty.” (New Issues Facing Christians Today, 1999)

I think that America, and we her allies, no longer have the moral victory, we lost it long ago, and continue to loose it. It seems we are erroding our integrity daily.

Don’t hear me saying that I don’t value democracy. I do, and always will. I love the freedom I have in this country, I love that I can stand up for what I believe in. I love that I can vote for which ever person I want to. But I think that democracy is not the starting point of freedom, but an end point. And, as Stott said, ultimate freedom will never be found in a society, but in our hearts, before God.