Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Monday, June 14, 2004

Boring Stuff About War and Fun Stuff About Hope

While in college I wrote a paper on Global Security Rule Sets.
The study was designed to answer two questions:
1) Are we safer now than we were during the Cold War?
2. Does the world act according to one of the pop theories of the minute (Clash of Civilizations, Neo Balance of Power, Russian Unipolarity, Pure Frickin' Chaos, etc.) or to something else entirely.
The results were clear, empirically sound, and wrong.

My determination was that the two primary determinants of conflict, regardless of the prevailing "World Order" were the stability of the rule of law and the presence of democracy. What I didn't determine was why anyone should give a damn.
Sure--it's nice to not get dissapeared and voting about it is even nicer, but there was nothing to do with my finding.

I read a book recently that hit a switch. There is a big part of the world that hates my country because we are secular and love equality, but also because we're kind of gross in some of our behavior and our pets are fat. So what do you do?

First, you set some rules. We'll hopefully do this by being nice, warm, and friendly. If not that we'll do it by being rich and proving considerable investment in "draining the swamp" that creates problems. If not that we'll do it by being strong.

Next you transition into living in a different type of world. We need to recognize that "Mike" who fixed my Dell was as much from Palm Springs as I am from Bangalore, but that my buddy who's job he took now has another job and "Mike" doesn't work in a sweatshop. That dripping sound is a swamp draining.

The "Big Brother" cameras that filmed Tienamen were made in the USA, a fact that is mentioned with great drama by college professors, what's not mentioned is that China's probaby better off because they trade with us. Of course life is messy, my shoes still cost way less than they should and my friend who is a teacher and missionary in China has to hide her Bible, but history moves slow.

Here's the thing--I've got some hope.
I know a guy who makes lots of money selling soap. He's thinking about making little bits of money working with kids in Africa. I know a guy who just graduated and could be studying anywhere he wants--he's studying Social Justice and hanging out in Honduras. I know a girl who has decided that she can best serve the world by going to Congo. I know a guy who helps establish the Rule of Law in Colombia.
Many of the people who graduate from college around now are going to be wild until their twenty five; get fatter over the following ten years; buy golf shirts; get fatter still; make widgets; sell soap; write reports; pay taxes; be inspired for a few seconds by a movie; have a heart attack; cheer for their kid at a graduation a graduation and a wedding; slow down; speed up; do something they're pround of; die and go to church where people cry briefly.
But I know a guy...
So what does it mean--it means that everything is hard, but some stuff matters enough that good people, the best people, will risk and struggle and hurt for it.
They are.
And that gives me hope.


Blogger Justin said...

I love this post...

...I don't understand Global Security Rule Sets in the least...and I certainly can't fix your Dell...but I feel your hope. I've been struck recently with how insanely awful this world is; and I've also been finding out, little bits at a time, how much that Awful is balanced by the insatiably Good. I know a guy who fixes up motorcycles and gives them away because he knows how good it feels to ride...I know a girl who graduated from a prestigious computer engineering college, joined the Peace Corps, and now teaches basic computer skills to poor Samoans...I know a guy who spends most of his free time trying to figure out ways to connect more deeply with the kids on his Lacrosse squad.

...I don't think I've ever been that guy. Maybe I have been to someone else, I dunno...but if I never become that guy, I have failed.


6:34 AM  

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