The abused woman tried to explain that she should give her husband another chance.
He beat her up again.
And again, she explained that maybe she deserved his anger this time. She should have known that he was very stressed out, and the children should have been quieter.
We went through this process five times. Only when her children begged her to leave, did she do it, and with some regret. Her self-esteem was so low that she did not trust her ability to be by herself.
She was not ready to be free.
When Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt, the Bible tells us that they wandered in the desert for forty years before they got to the Promised Land.
The rabbis ask, “Is the journey from Egypt to Canaan that long?”
The answer is that God wanted the generation of slaves to die, and that a new generation that did not live the life of slavery would inherit the land. And the fact is that the Bible keeps on telling us again and again about the cries of the Israelites wishing to go back to Egypt, because they desired the food that they used to eat!
They were not ready to be free.
This blog questions the belief that everyone is ready to be free, and that every human-being knows what to do with freedom. The latest news from the Arab Spring stimulated these thoughts:
Gaddafi’s death seemed to have been as brutal as his dictatorship; as cruel as his treatment of his people. Some say he deserved it.
I say: “That’s not the issue”.
The issue is that we often “help” other countries to be free – to gain “democracy”, when the nation and its people are not ready for it. The abused wife creates a return to status quo. (E.g.: Iraq.) The abused child becomes an abuser, and beats up his son. (E.g.: Libya).
Moreover, the soldiers who come to “free” the often-unwelcoming nation come back maimed physically and emotionally. Predictably, the mayhem they witness triggers the most depraved part of the few who engage in acts of unspeakable cruelty such as the U.S Army sergeant who is charged with murdering civilians and taking body parts for war trophies in Afghanistan.
Terror begets terror and cruelty begets cruelty. You can’t jump into a pile of manure and come out smelling like a rose – even if you think you’re the good-guy.
To be free is not just a state of physical freedom. It is a process that one grows into when there is the emotional maturity and the deep understanding of all its implication. For example, very few ten-year-olds manage to be on their own. Similarly, it takes years (generations?) before a nation matures into its REAL freedom; when they treat their people like they want to be treated and when one ethnic group stops killing the other (like a family where sibling rivalry runs rampant).
In both cases, you need a strong parent – someone who is going to give the time, patience and mentoring for growth and maturity. This is not what we did in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, or in Libya.
In the meantime we hear about horrific acts of retaliations in Libya, a country where revengeful acts are the norm. When we release the abused prematurely, he/she/they become the abuser. We witness the same kind of brutality attributed to Gaddafi by his opponents.
We invade a country in order to depose its leader, and invasion is brutal. We enter a new country hoping to create democracy… Our democracy; but it is a democracy fraught with blood. And, we force them to accept our own version of democracy.
Alas, we were not invited. Maybe they were not ready to be free?
With that, I can’t help but end with a cynical quote by Churchill: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”