Wednesday, February 22, 2006

On Being Self-Righteous...

Although we easily and often forget it, the U.S. is, like most of the world, something of a "Johnny come lately" to this whole universal freedom and democracy movement. To the contrary, even over the relatively few years we've been around, we've managed to wreak some pretty serious havoc in certain parts of the world, often within our own borders and against our own people.

We can play "holier than thou" to our "unenlightened" neighbors around the world, but it really wasn't that long ago that Americans of separate races were assigned to separate facilities and black citizens were routinely denied their right to vote. Those who spoke out against the status quo were often visited by violent hooded terrorists in the dark of night, their homes set on fire. Many were beaten and even killed. (Sound familiar?) We're not talking about the 1800s, here, folks. We're talking about the 1960s!! It wasn't that long ago that black Americans weren't allowed in the armed forces, and American women weren't allowed to vote, even in theory. Not too long before that, we had legalized human slavery and we were intentionally infecting Native Americans with smallpox.

I don't bring up America's dirty laundry because I think Americans are obligated to hang our heads in shame forever. To the contrary, I think we as Americans also have a lot to be proud of. I bring up our dirty laundry for two reasons:

1. to remind us that we shouldn't look down our noses too hard at those in the world who don't share our modern ideals of equality and
2. to illustrate how far a culture can come in just a few generations.


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