Listening to coverage on NPR this morning of the upcoming elections in Germany. A reference was made in the commentary to Gerhard Schroeder’s come from behind win in the last election. The reason cited and apparently widely believed in Germany for his win then was his outspoken objection to the U.S. (U.N.) war in Iraq. Fast forward to four years later, though…the country still has very high unemployment, a generally poor economic situation, and no indication the situation will improve any time soon. And Schroeder is getting the comeback momentum going again. Excuse me?
So, what are the people in Germany thinking today? Do they consider that they may have elected the wrong guy four years ago? Do they consider that they were pointing the finger at America and it’s war with Iraq when making their choice for a leader, instead of considering their own situation? Unfortunately, I don’t think they are that introspective. I guess we will know the answer this weekend. If they do re-elect him, will they hold him accountable for a continued failure to improve their situation? Or, if they don’t, will the next Chancellor succeed instead?
In the end, I’m not too concerned about Germany. But, what does concern me is that the rest of the world uses America as an example of either the right or wrong of what to do, while overlooking their own shortcomings. And, while some of the “pointing” may be dismissed as political posturing or bloviated fuddiness, the overall result is that America is getting the rap. And, I think the “rap” is far in excess of what it deserves. Typhoons hit Indonesia (neverminding that everyone there lives below sea level) and it is the fault of America and it’s thirst for fossil fuels. People are out of work in Germany and the war in Iraq is at fault. MuslimsBlacksWhitesJewsMenWomen kill each other and sex in Hollywood TV/Movies is the reason. Where does the pointing end and personal/national accountability begin?
Before this rant is dismissed as defensive nationalistic whining, let me say that I do think America is and should be a role model. I want America to be the role model for the world. I want the rest of the people on this planet to see democracy, freedom, personal choice, & improved standard of living as the goal. The problem with this vision is that America is too often instead seen as a poor role model. The bloviaters and detractors are quick to point to the imperfections and use them to justify their own ulterior motives. The “take the good with the bad” argument is too often subjagated. People don’t see relative improvement and evolution. The “it was better in the old days” statement always takes precedence over the “it is better than it was yesterday and it’ll be even more better tomorrow.” Unfortunately, small steps are never as apparent or visible as the giant leap, to “sample” a line from Neil Armstrong.
So, where does that leave America? Anything short of perfect will be criticized. Our moral position must then be rock solid. Our ethics must be spotless. Our cause mujst be just. Our motives must be pure. Our actions must be above reproach. Ultimately, we are visible to the rest of the world and we need to be mindful of that at all times. It is an enormous burden with 6 billion+ lives at stake. We can shoulder the burden. We have shouldered the burden.
We need to reconcile the pursuit of profit, with a concern for the less fortunate. We need to push for growth while limiting excess. We need to have a cross generational approach that is respectful, yet idealistic. In other words, there needs to be a compromise between the left and the right. Debate can still rage. This isn’t an attempt to stifle the back and forth that makes this country what it is. There will always be a need for having two sides to the argument. But, we need to eat our pizza and then also go for a run/ride. Too much of only one side of the coin is a) feeding the “bad rap” voices and b) distracting us from the noble pursuit.
Copyright (c) 2005 Jamoker. All rights reserved.