Socrates_Cafe: Can democracy and/or freedom be forced on people who don't want it? What is the difference between an act of war, and an act of terrorism? What are the moral and practical implications of the religious aspects of the current U.S. political campaigns?
I don't feel anything can be forced on people who don't want it. You can try to make people obedient to your will, but in the end, it is their choice to agree with you or not. They are also at liberty to change their minds once you turn your back. They are Free to choose, they have a right to choose, not to espouse democracy.
Can democracy be forced on people? It would be better to ask if our "brand" of democracy can be forced on people. We don't practice a true democracy; no one does. True democracy is closer to socialism than our government is willing to attempt, and we all know how our government feels about socialism (or is it just the republicans who get their panties in a bunch over the concept?). If our military actions over the last hundred years prove nothing else, it is that people may adopt our form of democracy under duress, but it is only a surface change. The same people are often still in charge, and even when they are not, the same ideology is still in play. Republican democracy degenerates too easily into cronyism and dirty politics, just as it has here. So I guess in that way we have an excellent track record in spreading our special kind of democracy.
The same is true of forcing "freedom" on people. Isn't that an oxymoron? If you force someone to be free, aren't you enslaving them with your idea of what their freedom should entail? The people who we attempt to "free" may already consider themselves free; in which case, our interference is a burden. Mostly what we force on them are a different set of choices. Is that synonymous with freedom? Some would say yes; others would say it depends upon the choices. By forcing our idea of freedom on others, we assume that their way of life is flawed. We want them to exchange their ways for ours and assume that they will be grateful. That is seldom the case. In this way, forcing people to be "free," forcing them to adopt your ways over their own, is an act of terrorism. An act of war is a disagreement that can be arbitrated if the warring parties will get off their high horses and make peace. An act of terrorism has no room for arbitration. It is one group forcing another group to be something else.
People are individuals. Some will embrace their freedoms; some will not. Some will choose to interpret their freedoms in a way that is onerous to those who share the same freedoms. Look at the freedom of religion in our country. Many, many people (Christians) seem to think freedom of religion applies to their own religion or sometimes only their sect and no one else's. If you practice a minority religion, then best of luck because freedom of religion does not apply to you! I am being facetious here, but you get the idea. Provided those who practice minority religions do not make themselves known to the majority, they (the majority) are willing to live and let live, but if you make any attempt at expressing your own beliefs in a public way, don't expect to be welcome with open arms. Only Christians are allowed to be public with their religion. If anyone else expresses their beliefs, the Christians become offended by their very existence. They become paranoid that the other faiths are trying to convert them or their children.... their fear is practically xenophobic.
In our country there is a separation of Church and State. However, every person (supposedly) has a right to choose their religion and express it in public, as per freedom of speech. What I find completely contemptible are candidates who express their religion only as a way to appear moral or righteous. More often than not, they are paragons of neither concept. The more a candidate declares "his" religious fervor, the less I believe "him." It's a case of "methinks he doth protest too much." And again, there's that separation of Church and State thing. I have no problem with a religious candidate, but they shouldn't drag their religion into the political arena. They shouldn't make political choices based on their religion. If elected to office, the president (or other representative) has a responsibility to All the citizens of the country, not just the ones who share "his" religion.
A politician who constantly drags his or her deity into the political arena is seldom as religious as they'd like us to believe. Furthermore, a candidate who later proves to espouse none of the qualities his or her deity supports is essentially dragging their God through the mud by association. I do not trust religious candidates because by the very nature of the position they are attempting to gain, they are supposed to be impartial representatives and protectors of our rights. I candidate or politician who publicly calls upon God in his or her campaign or quotes from their holy book is essentially saying their their god-concept is more relevent to their position than my god-concept. I politician who cannot keep his religion private, or at least not cite It as a reason for "his" actions, is not fit for office. A politician by the very nature of "his" job must strive to be aware of all of the needs of "his" people.
Old Disting is the feast of the Disir, the Norse guardian goddesses. A major festival was held to honor all the Aesir at the temple in Uppsala, Sweden.
“If it should thunder on St.Paul's Day, great winds follow.” According to folk tradition, a nice day today meant nice weather all year. Snow or rain brought a bad year for crops. Clouds or mists meant a bad year for animals, and thunder was a forerunner of windy days.