June 2017



     Recently I met my friend Arnold for afternoon coffee at our favorite café.  He wanted to talk to me about global politics.

     “I didn’t vote for the guy, but maybe he has something with his ‘America First’ policies.  What do you think, Richard?”

     “I keep thinking about that proverb of Jesus, ‘The first will be last, and the last first.’”

     “Oh, there you go, quoting the Bible again.  What does that have to do with the shape of the world today?”

     “Isn’t America already first in so many things – like natural resources, individual opportunities, vast wealth and productivity, advanced technology, and certainly in military strength?”

     “Yes, but that’s why everybody else in the world wants to bring us down to their size.”

     “So you envision the world as one of competition among nations?”  

     “Of course I do.  Competition is what makes the world go ‘round.”

     “Where does that leave cooperation?”

     “What do you mean?”

     “Take the environment, for one example.  No one nation can go it alone in improving the environment.  We all have to work together and put self-interest aside if we want to address things like global warming and air pollution.”

     “But why should we bear the brunt of the burden for things like that?”

     “Because we have resources that other countries do not have.  Like Jesus said, if you don’t mind my quoting him again, ‘To whom much is given, much will be expected.’”

     “But don’t we have the right to guard our own self-interests?”

     “Yes, but let’s not be selfish about it.  Other countries have looked to us in hope for our leading the way toward making this a better world.  Shouldn’t we share our resources, instead of pushing for even more wealth and dominance for us?

     “Don’t we do that already?”

     “We have in the past.  So what’s the big deal about making ‘America First’ all of a sudden?  Can’t we assume a less selfish posture?  After all, we’re not that insecure, are we?”  

     “I guess.  But I’m not so sure the world is such a safe place these days.”

     “Well, it won’t be if everybody is out for themselves, to the detriment of others.”

     “OK,” Arnold said with a wry smile, “as long as everybody agrees with us.”