We all sympathize with people who take a stand and struggle for their freedom and follow their dream of independence as a nation.
Now that the modern world has current standards of civilized behavior and instant communication, the world’’s sympathy depends on how that freedom is fought for. Particularly, the kind of tactics used to achieve it.
The Taliban and their adherents in Afghanistan have shown no respect for human rights, for women’s equality or for the free practice of religion different from their kind of Islam, in the fight for freedom. The Syrian freedom fighters who initially had the world on their side against tyranny, have demonstrated that many of them are capable of savage acts like cannibalism, human rights violations and despotic tendencies towards their fellow countrymen. In other words, terrorism and other such anti-human acts even in the cause of freedom repels the world and sets it against those who practice it even if their cause is just.
The Basque freedom movement used indiscriminate violence which consisted of terrorist acts like assassinations of government officials, bombing of public places like beach resorts, railroad stations and other locations where civilians congregated causing indiscriminate casualties. As a result they not only lost public sympathy but precipitated massive public demonstrations against them that damaged their cause
Armed conflict in this day and age has rules about how to treat prisoners, who to target (and avoid civilian casualties), respect for human rights even of the enemy, allow the Red Cross and other neutral relief agencies to give their services to the victims.
The last week has brought to the world an indifference to these rules with new horrors in the so-called struggles for freedom. In the Middle East the Israeli-Palestine conflict has turned deadly with civilians (an unconscionable number of whom are children) bearing the brunt of the shells and bombs that are indiscriminately used against each other. Hamas, the extremely radical Palestine freedom fighter organization, has opted to rain all Israel with rockets without confining them to military targets. Meanwhile Israel uses its armed might which is supposedly targeted on the areas where the rockets come from but in reality causing huge numbers of civilian casualties. This situation blurs who is right or has more right on its side and thus blunts any sympathy for either.
Then we have the latest outrage, a civilian commercial plane shot down from the sky by a super weapon most probably used by Ukrainian freedom fighters, as circumstantial evidence seems to show. If this is their work, these pro-Russian separatists just shown they are not fit to be free or to govern but instead have just reaped the world’s abhorrence for their acts and for their cause.
It is not just whether the world is on one’s side or not that matters as much as what it means for those who fight in this way using uncalled for cruelty and terrorism that reflect a crucial lack of moral leadership on their side that is ominous and lethal for their own future.
In Africa the countries who fought for freedom using terrorism and heinous human rights violations are still fighting among themselves in the same way despite now being free. What they used in the past against their tyrants, they use now against themselves. Only Nelson Mandela who rose above violence to exert moral leadership through principled struggle has brought his country to freedom with the stability and peace which make it an unalloyed victory.
For the truth is that those who ambition to be free must show that they deserve to be free. They must show that they are able to govern and that they do so not for themselves but for the good not only of their side but for the world. Civility, respect for human rights, goodwill to fellow human beings, the humanitarianism that must be part of every human endeavor must be part of the struggle for freedom.
We are seeing dismal and dispiriting events in today’s struggles for freedom. It seems the world is lowering its hard-won standards over the centuries.