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Dying for Democracy -- Zimbabwe
by J. Grant Swank, Jr., Pastor
2 April 2003

Unlike Iraq, these countrymen for democracy are fighting against their own despot.  They have no foreign liberators to fight for them.  They must rely upon their own ingenuity, faith and moral prowess.

Yes, ‘tis true. There are those in world spots who would be willing to die in order to overthrow dictators. That is, for instance, one of the gambles in the Iraqi conflict.

There is the mix in Iraq at the moment concerning Iraqi reaction to coalition forces. Do they want to be free from Hussein? Do they dare express any desire for release, knowing that could slice a bullet in the back? Do they secretly yearn for liberty, even the generations that know nothing of freedom?

All these questions will print their own historic answers upon the days ahead. With that, there are those of us who lean in the direction of Iraqis — masses of them — secretly yearning for freedom. That is our hope in this war.

Iraqis no longer want to tolerate innocent women having their heads cut off in the marketplace. They are tired of fearing for their families disappearing by police escort — hauled away as cattle. No more do they want to see father torn from his children, forced to be a suicide driver or see his offspring shot dead in front of his house.

There is a hunger for freedom in the human heart. That hunger can work its way to freedom. It can support liberators. It can organize for liberty. Turn from Iraq then to Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe’s hold on the populace has become increasingly dictatorial. He has assumed power maximum. The same fear as has been in Iraq and other despotic world spots has started to grip too tightly the citizenry of Zimbabwe. That means that some of the intelligent, organized leadership has posited itself against Mugabe. They have gone, in other words, where angels fear to tread. God help them.

On Monday, March 31, Mugabe’s home and office buildings were placed under police protection as liberty-hungry citizens forced their ethics upon his cold hold. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi broadcast over government radio that tight security has increased around the President in order to ward off the democratic opposition.

According to the Associated Press in Pst Harare, Zimbabwe, democracy supports are coming from "mass protests". The message? Mugabe must start government reforms — dramatic ones — that will insure real freedom to the people. Democratic leader Morgan Tsvangirai promised to see through the democratic protest goal.

Could that mean that some freedom fighters will die? Could there be bloodshed in the journey to liberty? The answer from the democracy enthusiasts is a clear, courageous Yes.

"This will be the final push that will restore our sovereignty, liberty and freedom," Tsvangirai said this weekend. "It will be a struggle that calls for extreme sacrifices, indeed even the supreme sacrifice" of death.
In other words, just as today’s coalition forces and those who support them worldwide realize that at times liberty means the ultimate sacrifice, so those under Tsvangirai’s leadership have committed themselves to the same. Supreme sacrifice. Death for another. Death for democracy to reign over dictatorship.
It is an old story. It is a hard story to tell. It is a remarkable story to experience when freedom finally casts off a cruel regime, just as is the case in the story writing this hour in Iraq. Sacrifice. Commitment. Faith. Determination. Principle replacing cowardice. One being willing to "lay down his life for a friend."
Democracy enthusiasts declare that their mass demonstrations will persist against the despot until "sweeping democratic reforms" are forthcoming — real and lasting. With that, Tsvangirai hears the threats from Mugabe, namely, that Tsvangirai will be arrested, put away, done with, in disgrace. Sound familiar? An echo from Iraq? 

To threats, Tsvangirai shouts loudly that he will not give up. However, he and his democracy fighters will follow in the train of the Martin Luther Kings. They will not use arms to achieve their goals. They are countrymen who will walk over the dictator by means of moral voice —"even at this hour, we seek no mortal combat. . .we have no weapons of war and we do not need any."

Unlike the Iraqi situation, these countrymen for democracy are fighting against their own despot. They have no foreign liberators to fight for them. They must rely upon their own ingenuity, faith and moral prowess.

Looking back, the democracy protestors have seen the dictatorial progression of Mugabe and now they have had enough of it. When Mugabe led his country to freedom from British rule in 1980, he took on an authoritarian cape. He controlled the media. He took over white-owned farms. The farm-yanking yielded two years of unrest in which the stolen from were slaughtered.

So much for independence from Britain in order to secure a democratic hold. The dictatorial fist gripped tighter and tighter to this present hour. This month in particular Mugabe cracked his whip against those involved in a two-day nationwide strike against his political hold.

Human rights investigators came across a minimum of 250 individuals who had to be medically treated due to injuries inflicted by the dictatorship. The crackdown saw through its madness till today when Gibson Sibanda, deputy leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested.

Throughout past years elections have been rigged. Therefore, Tsvangirai and his followers state to media that they will not permit such injustices to continue without lifting their voice of condemnation against the Mugabe regime.

In Zimbabwe and Iraq there is a cry wailing from the human heart — as it is all over the world. That’s the way humans are made — to be free. Only dictators do not want to admit that basic to the human condition. To realize that would mean their demise.

United States President George W. Bush, a moral man with high principles, knows perhaps more than any other world leader that heart yearning for freedom. No wonder then the present Iraqi campaign is championed as "Iraqi Freedom." 

The present war in Iraq is more than seeking discovery of weapons of mass destruction. It is more than protecting America from terrorism. It is more than pressing Hussein to comply with a UN Security Council Resolution. It surely is not thirsting via imperialistic means for land, oil wells and such. 

The present conquest in Iraq is, put simply, a crusade to set people free. It is to liberate human beings from a slaughterhouse rule. It is to release them into clear air and open fields for generations future. 

To see such noble ambitions through, there are countless souls who are more than willing to lay down their lives for their friends, even though at present we are not quite sure Iraqis realize the coalition as "friends."
For that, the coalition is willing to gamble on the side of the human heart’s cry.
 

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is the Pastor of New Hope Church in Windham, ME.  He is a a graduate of an accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School.  Pastor Swank has been married for 41 years and he has 3 adult children.  He is the author of 5 books and over 2000 articles in various Protestant and Catholic magazines, journals and newspapers. He writes a weekly religion column for PORTLAND PRESS HERALD newspaper, Portland ME.  His columns have appeared on IntellectualConservative.com, VIOdaily.com, AmericanDaily.com, MensNewsDaily.com, BushCountry.org, Chalcedon.com, ConservativeTruth.com, FreeRepublic.com, WoundedShepherds.com, among others.

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