The connection between Syria’s Bloodbath and Freedom to Write and Speak

Not so long ago, I “liked” (as the Facebook terminology goes) an FB page that had to do with the horror going on in Syria. In a nutshell, Syria is a Middle Eastern country that like most of the Muslim World has been ruled by a dictator. The Arab Spring and successful overthrow of a few Middle Eastern dictators have given those countries a new chance at democracy. Various factions in other Muslim countries want an overthrow too–some factions want their own dictatorship and some factions want democracy.

With such struggles come blood and at the worst, dead bodies.

So as this particular struggle goes on, which I sympathize  with truly, the FB page I “liked” continued to post a dead body every single day. I did not want to look at the corpses despite my compassion.  I unliked the page.  The pictures stopped.

Am I against the pictures?   I think they serve a purpose since pictures are like words, sometimes even better.  The Vietnam War was brought to a close because the television coverage  dragged the war into the living rooms of the American people. The body bag count was horrific to consider: young American lives brought to an early end in a far off place.

More importantly, I am for freedom of speech and healthy journalistic investigation. If a country does not have that, a sane person either tries to get both installed or leaves. Everything that is worth living for–peace, tolerance, a certain quality of life, freedom of worship and the right to pursue happiness–have come with struggle. These things have never been free.  I know how tremendously indebted I am to those Americans who struggled for rights that have not always been in place in the USA.  Suffragettes, for instance, went through hell and were treated like whores and criminals.

If I want to continue enjoying the hard won rights, I have to pay attention to what is happening in my country and speak out when a wrong is done.

Since we cannot all take responsibility for everything, I find myself greatly in admiration of those investigative journalists who reveal wrong and of those activists who keep up the good fight. I admire them wherever they are but am particularly indebted to those who ensure the continuation of the high quality of freedom I enjoy.

Living in Saudi Arabia for 17 years brought that home to me in a way that nothing else could. The fatalism of those around me in the face of the status quo, despite their adherence to a good religion, showed me how things can deteriorate. When politicians use anything, including religion, to subordinate a people so that the latter cannot speak out or write what they think for fear of reprisal, you can bet one thing.

They will want to vacation in a free country.