4% … May 30, 2012

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Just about 4% of the population of our world is American–living and dwelling within the boundaries of the United States. That means that in a room of a hundred people from all over the world, only four of them would have any interest whatsoever in Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

It is an issue of perspective. We have made a dangerous decision in our country, to make the world view of other nations–their cultures and their governments–an object of disdain or unrealistic admiration. Yes, as we always do, we have turned the necessity for having an understanding of our fellow-man all over the globe into a political juggernaut.

It is the responsibility of those who have spirituality to instruct our political leaders and our society into acquiring a comprehension of a wider scope of vision and a more accepting attitude towards others.

Instead, we choose up sides. The more evangelical Christians in this country have a zealous patriotism, often to the detriment of other parts of the human race across the earth. The more liberal or mainline denominational Christians take the position that the rest of the world is “just as good as everybody else,” and that in some ways the United States is actually inferior.

It creates conflict. Conflict does not lead to resolution. Our twenty-four-hour news cycle generates controversy under the illusion that such heated debate will lend itself to better appreciation. Nothing could be further from the truth. What does lead to resolution is the ability to ask the right question. Until you ask the right question, the inquiries you come up with are bent in the direction of confirming your own philosophy rather than discovering the truth that will make you free.

Those who claim to be very patriotic and believe that America has a destiny to rule the world–politically if not militarily–look at the other countries on the earth and their practices and turn up their noses and ask, “Isn’t that strange?” It’s very difficult to believe that reconciliation can be achieved when you start on the basis of thinking that something is “strange.” Even when we make lame attempts to address the cultures of other worlds at Christmas time with our children in school, we portray them as having “odd practices” while our decorating of an evergreen tree is completely normal.

Yes, conservatives tend to address the rest of the world as if they’re strange. Here’s a clue. Most human beings do not like to be considered “strange.” They even find it offensive. And since their particular form of spirituality does not prevent them from hurting people who offend them, we create a natural jeopardy for ourselves by insisting that the rest of the world is hampered by virtue locale.

On the other hand, the more liberal parts of our framework peer at the rest of the world and say, “Isn’t that better?” In the pursuit of what they would call justice, they become hyper-critical of our own society, our own culture and our own process, while lifting up often-obscure parts of other nations’ practices and extolling them as superior. This, of course, infuriates the conservatives, who feel that it’s anti-American, which further cements the liberals in their position that conservatives were basically born with half a brain.

So we play this dangerous game of–shall we call it–American roulette?–where we put five bullets in the chamber, hoping that when we whirl it around, we’ll be lucky enough to hold the gun to our head and be blessed with an empty slot.

It is dangerous to live in a world of diversity and fail to acknowledge that diversity–or at least try to understand how it came to be. It is also absolute foolishness to look at the record of mercy of a country such as the United States, which has attempted to help the world in so many ways, and purposely criticize it because we may be presently struggling in certain areas.

There has to be an understanding. The world is neither strange, nor is it better. It consists of people. Jesus came to give us a message that has world-wide appeal and application, not simply suited for white Europeans.

It is time to reevaluate. If we are only 4% there is no way we will ever be a majority. There is no way we will ever be the loudest voice. And honestly, there is no way we will be the predominant force–unless we find a way to understand the needs and desires of the other peoples around us.

Would you allow me a chance to take the next few days to discuss what we shall call The Path? I do believe there is a road that will take us towards better understanding without rejecting the love of our own country, but I contend that at this point it is just a tiny, winding path through a quagmire of misunderstanding. But if we can identify the path, then we can possibly clarify how we can remain loyal Americans, but gain a world view. I don’t want to just have a world view by criticizing my country, and I certainly do not want to extol my country to the exclusion of billions of people who do not possess our citizenship.

Would you join me? Can we take our 4% and use it more effectively in the world community? I think we can.

Let’s see if we can find The Path.

 

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