Monday, June 15, 2009

We Aren't Special

As members of humanity, as citizens of this planet, we really do need to just get over ourselves.

When Newt Gingrich proudly stands and says, "I am not a citizen of the world", what does he think he means?

Where was Newt's car manufactured? Where did his clothes come from? Where does his food come from? Where do his beliefs come from? Everything that makes Newt, Newt, is inextricably linked to all of the other human beings on this planet.

Each and every one of us is a citizen of this world.

We inhabit this fragile, precarious global civilization - our hopes, our dreams, and our futures are intermingled and intertwined, for better or worse, with all of the other frightened, nervous wrecks who call this planet Home.

What we do affects everyone - what everyone else does affects us.

Americans tend to be a lot like the famous character Alfred E. Newman who starred for so many years in the magazine Mad.

"What, me worry?"

I give President Bush credit for good things that he did - AIDS funding in Africa being a prime example.

But there are too many members of his party that just don't give a damn about what happens in other countries.

We have heard for the last eight years (ever since 9/11) how much of a threat Iran could be. Bush listed Iran as one of the three "Axis of Evil" nations along with Iraq and North Korea.

We have heard about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since he became President of Iran four years ago. We have heard about his threats against Israel and his denial of the Holocaust. We have heard about his advocacy of programs to develop nuclear technology.

Recently, we heard about the upcoming elections in Iran, where Mousavi challenged Ahmadinejad. Then we heard the reports that Ahmadinejad had "won" re-election.

But what have we heard since?

American news coverage of the resultant protests in Iran has been curiously silent.

All we hear about is what may threaten us - but when the Iranian people stand up for themselves, we don't hear about it.

And why haven't we heard about it?

Could it be because too many Americans are not "citizens of the world" and that news networks believed that Americans wouldn't be interested in the story?

A definitive answer may not be forthcoming - but this is at least one example of how detached many Americans are from the events which transpire in other countries.

People call Americans arrogant. Maybe the shoe fits?

We could do better by asking the shoe thrower.

1 comment:

Matt said...

That last line made me chuckle, haha.

But again, I mostly agree with you here. Americans as a whole are really bad about seeing past their own immediate problems. Most people don't really care much what happens outside of their own circle of friends/family/jobs/activities...much less what happens in other countries.

I disagree with the Republican party on the death penalty and free trade (to an extent, though the Dems aren't any better)...but if you were to ask me what I thought the biggest problem was with people in my own party, I'd say it's the reluctance of many to look past this country's own immediate problems. Bush did a decent job with foreign aid (for which I'm grateful), but even some of the people I agree with most (Limbaugh, Hannity, etc) sometimes make remarks about how American interests should trump the interests of third world refugees, for example. As a Christian, I don't think that's very...Christ-like.

I didn't hear Newt's comment in context, so it's hard for me to judge, but saying that he's not a "citizen of the world" is certainly a legally and literally correct assertion. I agree with him on 90% or more of the issues, so I hate to be too harsh on this one comment (especially since, like I said, I didn't hear it in context)...but I would probably disagree with the essence of his message, as well.