I was recently reading about China. The particular take of this piece was that China began, just over a dozen years ago, an attempt to become the world’s recognized superpower. As I read about its aggressive stance in many areas (investment in tech, foreign relations, military), and realized that the United States had done a similar thing after the Cold War ended, I began to wonder who we’re all trying to impress. Like many people I believe America has had it good for quite a long time. (At least for some of us.) I also believe we have used underhanded ways to get to this point. Trump has definitely set us back on the world stage, but as China is investing in science and tech, we’re polishing off our Bibles. (Take a look at the Supreme Court and disagree, if you can.)
In a world that has enough for all, why do we find it so hard to share? Growing up with the Bible I was pretty sure that was the central message. Instead, we seem to want to become the Nebuchadnezzar of the world, the great—well, you know—Babylon. Ironically, Babylon doesn’t fare too well in Scripture’s final book. Nationalism, it seems to me, is a great problem. People seem unable to feel good about who they are without hating those of different countries. It would seem that globalization should’ve taught us a thing or two about that. Perhaps it’s the nature of our leaders—people who promote themselves until there’s no further ladder to climb beyond world domination. Is that what we’ve come to? Is there any hope?
I keep wondering who such people think the final arbiter will be. Hasn’t history demonstrated over and over and over again that those who think too highly of themselves will be remembered most poorly? Do they lack the capacity to see from the viewpoint of other people? Our political and economic systems reward those who step on others and who think highly of themselves, it seems. Capitalism especially dwells in the fantasy world of endless growth in a limited environment. Combined with the restless curiosity of science and rapid growth of technology, this system seems set to go off the rails. Especially when world leaders see each other in competition with one another instead of working cooperatively for the benefit of all. No, I don’t believe Utopia is possible—there are too many self-interested leaders for that ever to work—but I do believe that national agendas that overlook differences (think the European Union) are far more worth our time than trying to become, or remain, a “super power.”