What price freedom?
Four years ago, I toured Lima, Peru. When our group stepped into a square bordered by government buildings, a school and shops, I was surprised to see armored tanks at each corner of the plaza, with soldiers manning the machine guns. Just as surprising was that the public went about its business seemingly oblivious to the military presence.
Our guide explained that not all that long ago Peru had been all but taken over by terrorists. Peruvians were afraid to say anything for fear of reprisal, even though they knew who the bad guys were. It was only when the terrorists left a car bomb in an area of residential high rise buildings, timing the explosion to occur when the greatest loss of life would be women and children, that the citizens of Peru said, ‘Enough!’
From then on, the bad guys were singled out and reported, time and again. Gradually, the rule of law prevailed. The people of Peru regained their country, but not without a cost to their personal freedoms.
For instance, Peruvians can speak freely. They can hold demonstrations. We saw a group exercising this freedom. But our guide said that should the demonstrators move toward this government square, in moments, heavily armed soldiers would be shoulder to shoulder to block them.
I was reminded of this on Saturday when Iowans held a veterans parade recognizing and honoring all the men and women who have served and are serving our country in the armed forces.
At one point an MRAP – Mine Resistant Ambush Protected – vehicle rolled by. Right in front of the Capital. Where demonstrators gather regularly on the steps and in the parking lots to make their voices heard. To complain. To argue. To cheer.
When I saw this armored vehicle and the others that followed it, I couldn’t help but think about what our lives would be like if we saw tanks and soldiers on our home streets every day. Not as part of a parade, but because the threat was so great they were our only chance at safety.
I lean liberal. I believe our rights, our privacy, are precious. And we should do what we can to retain these rights. But seeing the situation in Peru gave me serious pause. I wondered what freedoms I would be willing to give up? And what would it take to move me to that point?
We are more blessed than we know here in the United States. As I watched the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces, I found myself struggling time and again with tears. I am so proud of them. I am so grateful to them.