Dean Esmay just posted a conversation he had with a friend in which he states that the real problem in the Middle East is a lack of freedom. I understand where he’s coming from but I think he doesn’t realize where our freedoms come from in the first place. Or, at least, isn’t considering where they come from. It’s easy to say, “The Middle East needs more freedom,” but it’s important to consider how we, the West, got those freedoms.
I think history shows us that the freedoms we enjoy today, and the freedoms our Founding Fathers envisioned, are firmly rooted in the Judeo-Christian faith. Though our nation, and the West at large, may have abandoned that faith certain aspects of it remain to keep those freedoms largely intact. Even if just in spirit. That is to say while we may not be, any longer, religiously Judeo-Christian, we are culturally. It’s that cultural remnant of the faith that will keep the freedoms we’ve grown accustomed to intact for a time.
What then of Islam? I don’t believe the faithful observers of Islam are as blind to the roots of Western freedom as the citizens of the West have become. I believe that they 1) know Western freedom is rooted in Judeo-Christian faith and 2) see how corrupt our civilization has become with those freedoms. They may rightly conclude that to embrace Western freedoms is to also embrace the sins of the West. This is clearly something many of them would never do, and who could fault them? We think, arrogantly perhaps, we’re saving them from their own savagery when in reality we may be wrapping them in a pox infected blanket – and they know it.
Now, I’m not writing to pick a bone with the cultural decline, as I see it, of the West. However, when we’re trying to sell a bill of goods it seems we’ve forgotten that in some eyes we’re pushing a defective product. And worse still a product anchored in a faith the people we’re selling it to do not share.
If freedom is the answer in the Middle East would it not make more sense to foster an Islamic freedom? To try to find a freedom rooted in that faith as our is rooted in Judeo-Christianity? Then, one must ask, can Islam even produce such a thing? We see peaceful Muslims living in Western nations, yes, but we forget that many of these Muslims grew up in a culturally Judeo-Chritian society that encourages such things. They grew up in the shadow of a faith that embraces peace.
I don’t want to now talk harshly about Islamic nations but I cannot think of one where I could go and enjoy Western freedoms. I don’t think this speaks well for Islamic Western-style freedoms. Now, I do realize that there were many bumps on our way here, the West we know today. We have a lot of brutality and savagery in our past – much done in the name of Christ. Today we look back at those things and realize they are not a product of the faith but, rather, of men. I wonder if we might not look back and think the same of Islam one day? I mean, to be perfectly fair, during the height of the Protestant and Catholic wars who would have thought one day the faith these two factions claim as their own would one day produce the basket of freedoms called the United States of America?
Could we not be on the same end here? Could we not be mired in the Islamic versions of those Christian wars and we’re missing the peace that will come?
Of course, as pretty as that picture may be, if we are engaged in that kind of war, it means people will die. And if people will die then we must act.
But, if as Dean says, freedom is the answer, is Western freedom the answer? Do we not treasure our freedoms so because we appreciate the pain we went through to get them? Should not Islamic nations go through that same pain in some way? And should they not find, naturally I’d think, an Islamic freedom?
I guess the question now is: Can Islam produce a kind of freedom that can live side-by-side with Judeo-Christian freedom? If the answer is “yes,” then fantastic.
I fear, however, that the answer is “no.” What do you think?
Please be aware that Dean and I are friends. We may have disagreements but I can come to him about anything. If you”re going to comment, I’d appreciate it if you keep the comments to the topic of this thread and not allow it to turn into a Dean bashfest.