On my first morning home from a wonderful relaxing cruise on the Pacific Princess to the Middle East including Israel, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Italy and Egypt. I had mixed emotions as I pondered the complicated Israel-Palestinian governance, land and recognition of Israel as a state. I was amazed at the 2400 years old marble structures built and destroyed and now in the process of excavation especially in Israel, Ephesus, Egypt and Greece. I marveled at the war memorial in Croatia and the ongoing struggle for freedom in Egypt.
My guide in Israel recounted the 1948, 1967 and 1983 struggles plus the ongoing assault on the democracy trying to survive the problems involving its neighbors including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. My guide in Egypt described her feelings about being able to vote this 11/21/11 for the first time in over 30 years. In my discussion with her she was outraged about the oppression of women, the schools, the garbage pick up and the extreme difference between the rich and the poor!
In all of this awakening of my mind and senses augmented by the smells, the beautiful weather, the calm seas and the relaxing cruise I was tormented by the historical number of people killed to establish at some point in time governance by certain entities.
After much internal debate within my mind I asked my Egyptian female guide what are the principles of your revolution? She reiterated policies that were prejudicial affecting schools, marriages being arranged, including females and the poor, jobs, construction by the rich unfinished so that they wouldn’t have to pay the needed taxes. I am talking about multilevel housing projects with the 6th, 8th, and 10th floors still not finished, which allows the owner to delay taxes.
I asked again about what are the principles of your revolution and she said, “What do you mean?” Have you ever heard of the American Declaration of Independence? She said no. I then began to understand the quagmire of the Middle East. The population understood an endowment with prearranged marriages but did not have written down principles like our Declaration of Independence which begins with these unique and now universally held beliefs that “we hold these truths to be self evident” i.e.: there is not any question, discussion or debate they are self evident, that we are endowed by our creator.
Now isn’t that interesting everyone’s God, creator, Allah, Yahweh or whatever name you attribute to your existence has endowed us with the following: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. These are our principles that formed the basics of our Constitution. The policies on the other hand, like slavery, speech, assembly, religion, economic development, war, elections and thousands of other issues cost 600,000 lives in our civil war alone.
Prior to leaving the bus tour I suggested that our guide get a copy of the Declaration of Independence and that one of the best frameworks ever put into words that set the self evident principles might be exactly what this new revolution needed. The policies could then follow: freedom of speech, assembly, religion and democracy that gives one person one vote. I handed her $20 and suggested she purchase “The Declaration of Independence” or just download it off the Internet.
Isn’t it amazing that everyone has a cell phone, Internet access, ancient libraries of antiquity but no one seems able to agree on their principles of their now embryonic internal revolution? George Bush established these principles in Iraq and Afghanistan and now the seeds are beginning to bloom throughout the world, but most recently in the Middle East.
As a physician, I have fought hard to establish policies based on principles within my profession and I am well aware of the frustration felt by all sides of the health care issues.
It was truly a blessing to visit the biblical sites throughout the Middle East and now as I return to our blessed nation, the United States of America, I worry that without agreed upon principles, the policies of these individual revolutions could easily be sabotaged by the people who do not believe in freedom of religion, speech or assembly. I pray that Muslims and Christians can agree that we the people are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!
Mark Ivey Jr., M.D., is a longtime Payson doctor and past president of the Arizona Medical Association.