News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, February 14, 2011

An American’s Letter to Egypt

Today, I'd like to post an essay by friend Randy Rogers, songwriter, newspaper columnist, and small-town boy living in Minden, Louisiana. 

An American’s Letter to Egypt
by Randy Rogers
I hope I speak for most Americans when I say how very proud we are of you, Egypt.  Many of us watched on TV as your men, women, and children poured into the streets and, without firing a shot, fought and won your freedom from tyranny. 
We don’t have your pyramids and our culture is not as old as yours.  It was just a couple hundred years ago that we kicked out our tyrant.  It’s not been easy since then.  We’ve fought wars, home and abroad, and are still fighting them to protect ourselves and the beliefs that we hold to be self evident. 
So now that you’ve found freedom, Egypt, what do you plan to do with it?  How do you plan to protect it?  Some in your neck of the world don’t appreciate the freedoms we extend to women.  How do you plan to handle that? 
You’ll soon begin the process of writing a constitution.  When it came time to write our constitution, our founding fathers didn’t want to just give lip service to freedom.  They put it in writing. 
The preamble to our constitution begins with “We the people.”  That’s because we believe that we granted ourselves freedom first and, as long as they behave themselves, only loaned it to the government.  It was never the other way around. 
Human nature being what it is, we put in place a system of checks and balances to make sure that absolute power doesn’t corrupt absolutely.  Many an elected official has been voted out of office because, somewhere along the line, they decided to put “me” ahead of we, the people. 
Freedom cannot just be the absence of tyranny; it must exist in a climate of tolerance.  America is a nation founded on tolerance.   Believing in the notion that ours is a government of laws, and not of men, is what sustains us.
As guaranteed in the first amendment to our constitution, here are our five freedoms:
Speech – our people have the right to speak freely without government interference.
Press – our press has the right to publish news, information and opinions without government interference. 
Religion – our people have the right to practice, or not practice, any faith without government interference.
Petition – our people have the right to petition their government in favor or against any policy they see fit.
Assembly – our people have the right to peaceably gather in public, join, and associate with groups and organizations without interference from the government.
Great Britain’s Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, once said about America that you can sum up the worth of a country by seeing how many people want to get in rather than out.  For all our shortcomings, every day, people come to our country seeking a better life for their families. 
At the base of our Statue of Liberty it reads:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  She is our beacon of freedom. 
Egypt, now that you breathe free, what will serve as your beacon?  Will you lift your torch to all regardless of race, gender, creed, or color?   Will you be a nation of exclusion or tolerance? 
Congratulations, Egypt.  You now have the freedom to be either.

1 comment:

Elliot Kennel said...

Since the US was a staunch supporter of Mubarak for 30 years, I'm not certain that American advice will be strongly sought after.