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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Perspectives from Britain and Canada

Events in the Middle East have given rise to deeper observations about government.

In the spirit of Tocqueville, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair writes:
The reason religion is important is that it is about so much more than religion. It is about history, culture, tradition, belonging, identity and meaning. It is about the philosophy of life. It is about the spirit not the flesh.If the Middle East produces political change, without social change that is based on an open mind towards others, then it will have been a revolution half formed and unfinished and the economic change, so vital to advancing the position of the people, will likewise fall short. Such change cannot come without Islam and indeed all of us embracing the 21st Century. It is therefore our job at this moment to reach out; to open not close our own minds; to push forward for justice and for peace; to partner the modernisers and give them hope; and it is their job to lead, to reach back, to show that respect and equality between people of all faiths and none, is a purpose shared. This change can be managed over time and with care; but come it must.

So my point is very simple. Wherever you look today, religion matters. Faith motivates. Understanding faith, its adherents, its trends, its structures, can be as important as understanding a nation's GDP, its business, its resources. Religious awareness is as important as gender or race awareness. For politicians, business people; or just ordinary interested citizens, to know about a country's faith perspective is an essential part of comprehending it.

In the spirit of Madison, David Warren of The Ottawa Citizen writes:

The mob is now electronically summoned and enhanced, but, to return to where I started, this does not make it any easier to argue with, nor contribute to the possibilities for mature and intelligent deliberation over the path ahead. It instead creates a new and much broader field for anarchy. From anarchy to totalitarianism is one Persian step.

(Also see post from February 13.)