Freedom's Magnificent Upheavals
THE surge of freedom movements around the world, toppling dictatorial regimes and proclaiming a robust new era built on human rights, has an aspect to it that would have delighted and inspired the American Founding Fathers. Increasingly, leadership is being drawn from outside government. The ability to symbolize and reflect the popular will is taking precedence over political experience. Men and women who have been exiled or punished because of their beliefs are rising to power. Consider:
A playwright and novelist, Vaclav Havel, has captured the fancy not only of his countrymen in Czechoslovakia but of people throughout the world. He speaks with a universal accent, calling attention to human rather than purely national needs. When he addressed a joint session of the American Congress, he dwelt less on the problems of his own country than on the prospects for mobilizing an effective world response to the arms race, global environmental poisoning, mass hunger. Havel's primary concerns are for the human condition.
Lech Walesa, a Polish blue-collar worker and labor leader, came to national leadership through intelligence and steadfast adherence to clearly stated goals. He inspired trust under circumstances of political deterioration and confusion. The trust in him is the cement that holds a nation together at a time of accumulating economic ordeals and political instability.
Corazon Aquino is the widow of a Filipino freedom fighter, a man who challenged national leadership that was as systematic in increasing its political power as it was in looting the national wealth for personal gain. After the assassination of her husband, Mrs. Aquino devoted herself to the problems involved in creating political, economic, and social stability. Whether she can create a viable economy under a just social order remains to be seen, but she stands as a symbol of the best in her nation's history.
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, like Corey Aquino, is a political widow who has inherited the station and struggle of her assassinated husband, a Nicaraguan newspaper publisher who had the courage to publish antigovernment material. She has had no background in governance, but is identified by the people with hope for a just society and the opportunity to achieve true national independence free of outside interference.
Mario Vargas Llosas, like Havel an outstanding literary figure, belongs to a nation in which human rights have been repeatedly battered. His principal rival for the Peruvian presidency, Alberto Fujimori, is the son of Japanese immigrants. Mr. Fujimori, known in Peru as the ``Japanese Torpedo,'' is an agronomist who has been outspoken about US efforts to end cocaine production in Peru. He proposes plans for substituting crops for cocaine to enable Peruvians to be self-sufficient in food production. Both Vargas Llosas and Fujimori have been able to develop followings as newcomers to politics.
Nelson Mandela has inspired the world with his dignity, courage, and compassion, and his ability to be totally free of personal vengefulness and even bitterness in leading the fight against South African apartheid. The sense of fairness and justice manifested in his very bearing are a powerful force in combating injustice and in designing a nation in which the rights of both blacks and whites will be protected under law.
The emergence of these leaders from outside conventional channels says as much about the exciting new prospects in the world today as do the upheavals that have seen old walls come tumbling down and new constitutions being written that use language and concepts integral to American history.
Men like Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, and Paine, whose efforts were directed not just to the construction of a national habitat of freedom but to the beginning of a process that could remake the world, would glory in the present situation and its prospects. And they undoubtedly would agree that the end product of the magnificent upheavals of our time should be an interdependent and organized world society. Since the transcendent problems of the time are global in nature, global responses are necessary and indeed mandatory.
The great need, therefore, is for individuals to emerge who can inspire people in a nuclear age with a sense of human goals that are consistent with human survival and progress.