Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bye Bye, Bahrain. I Never Knew Ye.

So this time tomorrow night I was supposed to be on a plane to Bahrain. My mom and I planned this trip several months ago. We were going to visit my aunt, uncle, and triplet 12-year-old boy cousins, and I was going to swim in their pool, pretend to be a fellow 12-year-old with my cousins, finally catch up with my Uncle, and browse the exotic Middle Eastern markets while getting some much needed bonding time with my Aunt and Mom. But apparently the Bahraini government had other plans.

Their plans differed greatly from mine in that they involved killing several people and wounding hundreds of others in a cowardly sneak attack on sleeping peaceful protesters last night. In light of this sudden chain of events, my mom and I decided we should probably postpone our trip for a time in the Middle East when there isn't so much political unrest (ha!).

I'm really pretty bummed about cancelling the trip and spending next week in the office instead of on a beautiful island, but I'm even more upset about how it's the twenty-first century and people are still literally dying for democracy. All of my thoughts are with the modern-day martyrs for freedom of expression, and, especially in the case of Bahrain, equality regardless of differences in religion (see Shiite and Sunni, the two opposing Muslim sects involved in this country-wide dispute).

I often bemoan the imperfections of the United States (not so much on this blog, but in the privacy of my own mind, where these lamentations are not nearly as annoying as they are in casual discourse), but we as a people are truly blessed in so many ways. If I wanted to, I could go out, buy a flag, and burn it in the middle of my street. The only thing I would get in trouble for would probably be breaking some sort of fire code.

There would be no tear gas involved, and no physical retaliation unless it was by some zealously patriotic bystander, which, in the Northeast, would not be likely. Bottom line: no acid would be thrown on my face and I would not risk dismemberment for actively demonstrating my opinion, whatever opinion one demonstrates when one burns an American flag...I wouldn't know what that opinion is exactly. Maybe an aversion to stripes, or the teacher who insisted you recite the pledge of allegiance every day, or conformity, or the recent cancellation of Ugly Betty. Wow. So many things. As an FYI, anyone who participates in this kind of protest should probably accompany it with a sign and/or pamphlets in order to make sure people know what the hell statement you're after... Simply "I hate America" probably won't work, either, if that's the message. People are strange and usually question the "why" of things. Or at least I do.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that if I ever were going to burn a flag and create the accompanying pamphlets necessary to explain my off-kilter reasoning behind such an act, today is not that day. Today I feel pretty damn lucky to be in this country, and I sincerely hope that those in the Middle East, after just a fraction of the exhorbitant amount of freedom Americans enjoy and probably take for granted in our everyday lives, succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

Good luck to you guys, seriously. I'll be watching your story with interest, hoping it's one I recount to unbelievably bored future grandchildren while explaining to them that, back in my day, we had dictators on planet earth.

And also, gay marriage was illegal.

Then they will yawn and ask me to take them out for ice cream. And I probably will--in my sweet flying car :)

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