As Toby Keith would say “Once in a while, I wanna talk about ME!”

Well, so do I…sort of. ME being the Middle East, of course. When it comes to ME, I’m your typical know-nothing Western hick. Really. What I think I know about the Middle East couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, we all see the pundits, the politicians, and the posers, and we form our opinions, but who really knows ME? Me? Nuh uh.

Having a couple of days down time due to a problem with one of the hind paws, I came across a wonderful opportunity this morning whilst meandering through Facebook. “Wave of Freedom” is a conference sponsored by President George W. Bush in Dallas, where speakers were invited to address the events taking place in ME. Ever heard of “You don’t know what you don’t know”? That was me this morning as I listened attentively to Dr. Condoleezza Rice speak in declarative terms why the Middle East is the way it is today, and why Democracy is the only real answer to the regional crises taking place.

Of the several points taken away from her speech, the one standing out the most was “Democracy takes time to develop and mature.” To paraphrase one of Dr. Rice’s comments “Had I said to anyone in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s that the Berlin Wall would come down, I would have been locked up in an Institution!” Her point is well taken. None of us outside government circles could have reliably predicted the downfall of the Soviet Union. None could have predicted the peaceful reunification of Germany under West German terms. None could have predicted the realignment of national borders throughout Europe. Most of all, none could have predicted the rise of democratic forms of government in Eastern Block States. Sure, the egotist might say “I could have told you so for X, Y, and Z reasons”, but I’d be inclined to wave a bullsh!t flag in their face.

In like manner, none can predict how things will look in Iraq just a few short years ahead. The pessimists among us (and I generally count myself as one) tend to hold the belief that nations like Iraq cannot sustain Democracy due to warring amongst the tribes. In the absence of those supporting Democracy, we might be right. But who’s to say? Well, the Iraqi people. That’s who. And, over across the way a piece, the Afghans.

Closer to home, as Dr. Rice pointed out, the Columbians are having a say in the matter of Democracy, as are the Chileans and Brazilians. Having spent a couple of years in Chile during the opening of the 80’s decade, I know what that cycle looks like. People today fault Pinochet, but Pinochet was a vast improvement over Allende. Yes, Chile today is a vast improvement over Pinochet. However, I’m reminded by today’s event to look at the whole of it.

The bottom line for me, coming away from observing today’s speeches, is to have more faith and patience in the maturation process of Democracy. Ours took well over a hundred and fifty years of maturing before it became much of what it is today. To paraphrase again one of Dr. Rice’s statements: “As a child in Birmingham, ‘We The People’ didn’t refer to me. Today, ‘We The People’ includes me”.

In Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, Democracy will take time, patience, and perseverance, before ‘We The People’ grows to include everyone. Generations will pass, but let Democracy persevere. Mankind owes it to itself.

Oopsdate: You could probably make use of a link to today’s conference: Wave of freedom