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Democracy is not for Saudi Arabia - not yet

Reader comment on item: Is Saudi Arabia Opening Up?

Submitted by Frank Luke (United States), Jan 4, 2011 at 10:18

The dilemma that Saudi Arabia faces is the same (albeit to a greater extent) as that faced by any nation ruled by Sharia laws. There is an innate desire among people to be holy/good/religious. This can lead to restrictions and rules which tend to render their life boring and painful. The problem is not the desire for holiness or the desire for God. The problem comes up when one group of people set themselves up as "God's agents" and begin instructing others how they ought to live.

These "Agents of God" enforce their interpretation of the holy book on others. What they fail to realize is: What we believe/follow at any stage is our interpretation of the book; and our interpretation is not perfect because we are not perfect - only God is perfect. Our interpretation depends on our understanding, and being men, we do not have perfect understanding, we only think that we do. Our understanding (and hence our interpretation) is a work in progress because we are imperfect. Our understanding can improve, which means there was room for improvement to begin with.

The common man in Saudi Arabia is much like the common man in America. He wants to be happy and he wants to be good. But the problem he faces is enormous. There are other countrymen who are telling him how he must be holy. This is his dilemma. In the modern world, men decide what they do and they decide what is holiness. In Arabia one group of men decides what is right for others. Obviously, some men in Arab lands have taken away the free will that God has given man.

In such a scenario, democracy will not work. A benign dictator is better than an elected ruler who will rule harshly. Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the choice is not between autocracy and democracy. The choice is between army rule and extremist rule. One can only hope the army is not as harsh as the extremists.

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