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Keeping the Faith

August 21, 2019

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

I’ve been watching the demonstrations in Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent in Moscow with great interest, as readers of this blog might imagine. It’s been incredibly emotional for me to see the citizens of Hong Kong wave the American flag and sing our national anthem in their protests against the mainland communist regime that’s been cracking down on them slowly, but surely, since Britain relinquished their former colony to China nearly twenty years ago.

It’s difficult to describe what this means to someone who comes from a family of political refugees. Whose mother still clenches her fist and talks about what she experienced as a political dissident in a communist country. What escaping and coming to a democratic nation, one with a constitution by and for the people meant to her. It’s become almost passé, hasn’t it – such sentiments?

Yet, the truth of the matter is that the freedoms we take for granted and even deride at times are precious to those who are in acute risk of losing them. It’s good to be reminded of that every once in a while.

“You have no idea what it was like!” My mother still says at our dinner table at least once a week. “Nobody here – they don’t know and they will never know until it happens to them.”

I certainly hope it never happens to us.

And I desperately hope that the people of Hong Kong and the people advocating for more democracy in Russia won’t be squashed by their state, or largely ignored by a world which sympathizes, surely, but simply doesn’t have the political will to do anything but feel really bad about what’s happening over there.

“We have our own problems,” we say. And we do. Only ours over here in the West seem to be self-inflicted right now.

Our political screaming matches, our crisis of confidence – those seem to have shaken us to the core, making us doubt our very foundations, every institution we’ve ever built, each step we’ve ever taken. I pray we can shake off this temporary insanity soon. I long for us to embrace one another again, be grateful for what we have and reach out to those within and without our communities who are struggling. Who might look to us for inspiration and help.

I believe we will, because I believe in the raucous symphony of democracy. What we have is a pain in the ass to be sure. Democracy, by its very nature is flexible and forward moving. It requires a willingness to change, and to take responsibility. Personal responsibility when things go wrong. When our elected leaders disappoint us. When we fall short of our own expectations.

And it requires faith.

From → faith, family

  1. I so agree with your statement, “Yet, the truth of the matter is that the freedoms we take for granted and even deride at times are precious to those who are in acute risk of losing them. It’s good to be reminded of that every once in a while.”

  2. Last two paragraphs are a great summary. Thanks. The “raucous symphony of democracy.” Love that phrase.

  3. There is so much truth to this post. As I read posts in other blogs I feel that it is also such a white perspective.
    I remember living in segregated Louisiana in the 1960s and we just don’t know, the horror experienced here by the black community.
    The last three years I have received so many snide remarks and bigotry directed at me withe “You were born in Mexico?” or the kindly “You are not the kind of Mexicans we are talking about.” That has been such an eye opener, as it is very new to me.
    I love the American Democracy. What I see now, is not us at all. I hope you are right and that we will find our way back.

  4. I think we will. And while racism and zenophobia are present (and unwelcome) in America – exacerbated perhaps by our current culture war – I don’t see them as a symptom of our democracy. In fact, I think the very nature of the way we conceived self-governance is what has helped change hearts and has inspired movements like civil rights. Sometimes our ideas are smarter than we are 🙂

  5. Like your mother, I had to leave a brutal communist regime. I left Zimbabwe in 2003 at age 54 with 2 suitcases after the illegal farm invasions.The government took my farm, business, home and all my assets. Now in the safety of Canada it amazes me that so many North Americans seem to want to destroy the very societies and systems that made our two countries the prize destination for virtually every refugee and would-be migrant in the world.

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