Recently, I was reading Joana’s thoughts about how we, as a country, need to stop ignoring our own internal problems while we throw resources at others’ problems around the globe. I felt conflicted emotions about this issue. On the one hand, I believe there should be a way to be a good neighbour and help others in their times of need but, on the other hand, I do not think that out own unfortunate populations should be forsaken to do do. The comment I left reflected this, I hope.
Well, I can’t say abandoning the world is going to help but you know, maybe international relations can be on a hold a while when we figure out our own shit. I’m sure there’s some sort of a balance to working at home and helping out the neighbours and even those across the globe. But it’s probably a pretty difficult balance.
Afterall, being friendly isn’t a bad thing and we can’t exactly wait until all our problems are solved as anything with people will always have problems.
Still, completely ignoring the homefront just to impress president or PM of country X is pretty lame. I think it does have a lot do with the fact that much of the national issues are “supposed” to be taken care of at the state level (or are pushed down to that level so the federal government doesn’t have to do anything, maybe?) whereas international efforts are federal.
I thought it would be left at that but, as luck would have it, my aunt forwarded me a link to JK Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech and I also took the time to read the speeches of other prominent figures, such as Bill Gates and President Bill Clinton (during last year’s commencement).
Many of these speeches focused on the fact that Harvard graduates have a unique opportunity given them by their education, that perhaps they will be more qualified to solved the ills of the world. Many of these speeches focused on the problems abroad that we, as a modern nation, are more equipped to deal with than those experiencing such pains. This was a strong theme when Bill Clinton discussed his work with AIDS, especially in Africa.
I find this work to be admirable and selfless. I know that millions of people will see another day or another 20 years because of it, sometimes because of simple medicines that Americans and others in modern countries take for granted. I absolutely think someone has to do it and why not you or me?
But where do you draw the line when it comes to giving a helping hand at home or extending that hand outside your domestic boundaries? How do you even begin to go about deciding where to draw the line when it’s so easy to slip to either side; focus too much on home and you’re selfish to the point of self-detriment, focus too much on the outside and you’re selfless to the point of self-detriment.
I absolutely believe that if you have the power, the resources and the technology to help, you should help. We should help. In Africa, in China, in India. I also believe these efforts go a long way toward global relations and respect and, of course, peace.
But why does international effort seem so much more heroic, more noble? Indeed, there are issues on the home front that need our attention: obesity, education. government spending/funding, education, homelessness, unemployment, the economy in general. Is it perhaps that even an American most afflicted by these controversial issues is still so much better off than someone in a third world country with AIDs? That, perhaps, the most unfortunate American is still better off than the most pampered non-American?
Or perhaps selflessness is simply expected of America because she is the world’s last standing super power regardless of the nobility of the acts themselves. And why not lead the way for others to follow, to be inspired by our selfless acts? Surely by doing and teaching this, we are only helping our own citizens.
The balance is a delicate one and while there are decisions made by my government with which I do not agree, I cannot condemn the efforts because of solely those arguments. Society is, afterall, an evolving process.