Many times in this blog I have talked about the various ways in which people have told Tim and I that they disagree with the current policies of the American government, and I have not hid my own disillusionment. However, for many people, even some of those critical of our government, America still stands for the 'land of the free', and this is an ideal that many people yearn for. People in many countries we have visited must deal day to day with repression of speech, of religion, of economic opportunity, and rampant government corruption. The media is censored. Internet is filtered. Any type of dissent is not tolerated. Visiting these countries has given me a new appreciation for where I come from.
While I myself disagree with the international policies of my country...while I believe that America operates on a double standard, striving to provide economic prosperity and freedom for its citizens but at the same time allowing the suppression of the citizens of other countries as needed to protect our interests...while I am embarrassed because of the current mess America has created in much of the world, I am still thankful to be an American citizen. I am thankful to have the freedoms and rights that I have, thankful to be able to travel as we do, to have the economic opportunities we have. Thankful to be unafraid of the police trying to extort money. Thankful to be able to openly disagree with my government, something that in many countries would get me imprisoned without due process of the law.
These freedoms are fragile, and nothing will erode them faster than fear. Fear like that caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and reinforced by our government propaganda in the so called 'war on terror'. This war on terror has already begun to erode our freedoms. Freedom is precious. Guard it as something precious and possibly fleeting, and strive to respect and protect the freedoms of people throughout the world regardless of circumstance.
"In America freedom, liberty. Here no liberty, no talk. Talk...jail."
"I want to travel. In America you can travel freely. Here, it is very difficult for us to go anywhere."
"For us, there is no economic opportunity."
"Many people are arrested. Some just disappear. You cannot speak openly."
"Our faces our laughing, but our hearts are not laughing."