Friday, April 13, 2007

A Humble Attempt To Ease International Tension

I'll admit it, when I was younger I indulged in it quite a bit. I mean, all the other kids were doing it - I thought it would make me look cool. As I've gotten older, though, I've begun to regret it more and more.

I'm talking, of course, about anti-Americanism. Why? What did you think I meant?

The fact of the matter is, as I've read more and more history, I've come to the conclusion that anti-nationalism is about as inevitable as nationalism. If any country sticks their head over the parapet and proclaims "We're number one" a whole host of other countries will be just as likely to begin throwing number two.

As complicated as human lives are, with their unspoken motivations and constant myth-making, the lives of nations are even more so. It's very easy to emphasize what is most disliked and thus present a very unbalanced view of things. Yet few nations on Earth are not guilty of exactly the sorts of things they're most likely to condemn the United States for doing.

That's especially easy when the regime in question is as venal as the one currently toppling in Washington. Yet within each specific criticism is the answer to why it was made. "Zey're bullies" say the French, having never heard of Napoleon, and conveniently forgetting their own head-waiters as well. "Raging imperialists," the British might sniff, no doubt jealous, yet without a hint of irony. "Don't forget greedy," Canada might be eager to add, as it clings like cream (or scum) to the 100 mile strip above their common border, quietly slurping its economy northwards in exchange for abundant raw materials.

Each of these accusations may be true, but in making them much more has been revealed about the accuser than the accused. If I call a coworker "lazy", chances are it's to deflect attention from me, since I've been a little slack at my job, only he's been worse. At best, it's passive-aggressive, and when the best thing you can say about something is that it's passive-agressive, it's not that great.

There may be bigotry in the United States but there is bigotry everywhere; Europeans are able to sit on their comfortable duffs and bitch today specifically because America has been relieving its previously medieval overcrowding for the last 200 years. The solution is in understanding, not name-calling.

It's easy for non-Americans to admire, say, FDR, without admiring the national circumstances which fostered him; it's even easier to criticize all of America for the indiscretions of a few politicians rather than the politicians themselves. Sure, there are over 62 million people who voted for George W. Bush in the last election, which leaves about 138 million who didn't.

In this day and age, when real problems threaten the lives of everyone on the planet, standing around pointing fingers at this one and that one really does get in the way of solutions. As I've always said, it doesn't matter who has caused a problem, so much as who fixes it, since we are all to blame, in our own way. That doesn't automatically absolve the guilty parties of their crime, but when the crime committed (be it terrorism, global warming, or whatever) is an equal threat to those who caused it, solutions are more important than accusations.

So, if you'll just pop my Nobel Peace Prize in the mail, that'd be lovely.

[BBC via Seumas]
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1 comment:

Seumas Gagne said...

Your prize is in the mail.