Sunday, October 4, 2009

Farther along

It would be an understatement to say that our nation is going through turbulent times.

The country is in a tizzy about healthcare reform, the economy continues to sputter, and we continue to deal with war on the international scene. In some respects, these problems might make a person not want to read a newspaper or watch television for several months.

However, events are not always as bleak as they seem. Though the challenges we face are daunting, we know we get to go through them in a society of freedom and liberty.

Let's face it; we take a lot of the basic liberties that we enjoy for granted. So, for a much-needed reality check, let's take a look at what some people are dealing with around the world.

The following information comes from various human rights organizations, including the International Christian Concern.

For example, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari recently acknowledged that Muslim extremists in his country have been exploiting blasphemy laws in order to persecute non-Muslims and moderate Muslims, according to the ICC.

Basically, the laws there prohibit any attempts to convert people from one religion to another. According to reports, Muslim extremists with the aid of police and local officials have exploited laws that have led to the deaths of 33 people, most of who were Christians.

Religious freedom is one of our most cherished freedoms in the United States, but as this example shows, many people take their lives into their own hands just to do activities that we don't think twice about doing.

Examples like this are not isolated. For example, in Vietnam, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently stated that his government will not return property that it confiscated from churches. This is a long-standing practice there, and the government has been taking buildings and other possessions from the Catholic Church since 1954.

At a time when many in America are concerned about the intrusiveness of government, this example shows us that we should count our blessings.

This doesn't mean that we should not keep a close eye on our government. The public has been doing an excellent job of that lately. We should just be thankful that we do not face the type of tactics the people in Vietnam are facing.

Though the war in Iraq has gotten a lot less attention from the media in recent months, it remains a treacherous place. A common tactic being used by gangs there is the kidnapping of people from another religion and holding them for ransom.

For example, Islamic kidnappers recently released Dr. Sameer Gorgses Youssif after 29 days in captivity. He was tortured throughout that time and threats were constantly made toward his family as well.

The crime took place in Kirkuk, and this is the fourth time in two years that a doctor has been snatched in that city. People who have money in that war-torn country have to keep looking over their shoulders to avoid becoming another statistic.

As America begins drawing down in Iraq, the problems of that country will likely be unbearable to watch. Obviously, it is in the world's best interest if that country develops into a strong democracy. If that happens, more stability will be brought into that region, and it will definitely help the United States.

Unfortunately, it will not be that easy. Iraq likely faces decades of turmoil like any country does when it starts from scratch. Though the country has been around for a long time, it basically is starting over in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror.

Let's pray they do well.

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