The ideals of freedom and democracy seem to be spreading like wildfire in the Middle East. Since mid-January, civilians have been protesting the regimes of oppressive dictators in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. People have demonstrated boldness as they continuously "speak out" against their governments, planting a democratic seed in a traditionally autocratic region of the world. But, can this passion for liberty be sustained with few democratic institutions in place and with no real support from the world's most powerful democratic nation?
The transition from autocracy to democracy can be a dangerous, risky venture. The prospect of elections doesn't always guarantee genuine democracy. During a political science class I had at UK last semester, "Causes of War," I read that it may be necessary for a sequence of events to occur before the country can function successfully as a democracy: creation of a national identity, the institutionalization of a central government and the emergence of mass political parties and an electorate. Patriotism, political organization and respect for liberty are important aspects that give life to a vibrant democracy.
As I think about the uprisings and transitions occurring in the Middle East, I am doubtful that peace and stability will prevail. News emerges daily about civilians' struggles to retain power and authority over their governments. To Americans, however, it is exciting to witness others fight for the freedoms our nation proudly promotes. Although violence plagues the lives of people in this region, a passion for democracy has been ignited and I (along with the rest of the world) will be watching to see if the flame is fanned.