Making the world great again

Shae Slaughter

This last week has been rough for the U.S. It is impossible not to acknowledge the devastation that has occurred due to the hurricanes, fires and related issues currently ravaging our planet. 

People are without food, water, shelter and other things that we consider to be basic human rights. People are scared, and rightfully so, but it’s not just the U.S. that is suffering these losses, as much of the world is under attack.

It’s easy to forget this fact. Our news cycles are often one-sided and focus in on what’s wrong with the U.S., as opposed to what’s wrong with the world. This isn’t a dig at our news sources, but rather an acknowledgment of the U.S.-centric attitude that many of us are guilty of, myself included. Pride in one’s country is important, but worldly consciousness is as well. 

We are lucky to be in the U.S. Yes, we have had wars, rough political elections, military drafts, recessions and depressions, but for the most part, the U.S. is a stable and powerful country. Other countries and people are not quite as lucky. 

The same storms that ruined our advanced infrastructure in Florida and Texas also devastated many countries in the Caribbean. Matt Burgess, a writer at Wired UK, mentioned that 95 percent of the buildings on the island of Barbuda were damaged and that the prime minister considers the country unlivable at the moment. 

I can’t imagine 95 percent of the U.S. being damaged. Can you? Can you imagine an ethnic cleansing occurring within our borders like the one that is happening in Myanmar? When I think of destruction on that scale, I worry instead about a nuclear bomb, a third world war or some man-made disaster. But what if we are our own man-made disaster? What if our withdrawal from the world is the cause of an even greater trauma than what the weather or segregation cause?

Our domestic issues and agendas are exceedingly important because our citizens matter, but this is not a solitary factor. We exist only in relation to other countries; we share just one planet, so our international relations are just as important as our domestic ones.  

The U.S. is blessed with the ability to influence and help other countries. Not all of these countries are willing to accept our help, but many of them need our guidance in democracy, human rights and revolution. Countries that are below us in GDP and other important statistics are eager to help, and we should be, too. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden shared a similar idea in saying that “America’s ability to lead the world depends not just on the example of our power, but on the power of our example.” 

In the wake of a natural disaster, Mexico offered aid to us. This gesture was very kind, seeing as members of our government have been working to place a wall between us and them. That’s the key phrase: “us and them.” There is no “us or them.” There is “we.” As in, “we” are all people and “we” all deserve respect, security and assistance. 

The hurricanes, nuclear testing, ethnic cleansing and other problems that have occurred over the last few weeks are are reminder of this very fact.

I hate to see the U.S. take actions to remove us from the world and to brand so many other countries and people as outsiders. There is no world without other countries, without other races and without other opinions. 

The U.S. is supposed to be great for many reasons, but we cannot be great alone. Maybe we should focus not only on making America great again, but also the world.