Like many people, I confess to a fair amount of skepticism about the possibility that democracy is going to blossom in Iraq or Afghanistan as a result of the military actions we’ve been engaged in for much of this decade.

That skepticism has not been erased. But I also confess to a certain amount of humility after reading Stephen Lee Myers’ report on Sunday’s election in Iraq.

No matter what else I might think about the election, I marveled at this paragraph:

“Iraqis defied a barrage of mortars, rockets and other bombs to show up to the polls in strength on Sunday, in elections that have been seen as a critical test of Iraq’s stability and a last milestone before American troops leave the country.”

Elections marred by violence are not as rare as we might hope in today’s world. Perhaps we are even a little jaded at hearing stories about them. But the question lingers: How many of us would defy “a barrage of mortars, rockets and other bombs” to go out and cast a ballot?

Keith Graham

Keith Graham

Keith Graham was among the recipients of the prestigious Stella Artois prize at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival. Named for a blind piano player, he is also well known for always giving money to street accordion players. A quotation that he considers meaningful comes from the Irish writer Roddy Doyle: "The family trees of the poor don't grow to any height." In addition to contributing to Like the Dew, Keith frequently posts quotations and links and occasionally longer articles at