Cultural Psychology

Renew America and the World Will Follow

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When I came to Europe to visit I hoped I’d to find many good ideas I could take back to the US — new concepts and paradigms for the future. What happened is almost the reverse — the experience made me see appreciate the importance of our leadership role.

Yes, we have difficulties and make mistakes. But these occur in part because of our unique position. We are the oldest modern democracy on earth. It’s a continuing experiment, and we’re still working the bugs out.

What’s happened lately is that our society has become fragmented. We’ve lost a sense of common vision and destiny. What I’d like to see pull us back together is the common recognition that the world needs us. It needs us not as policeman, bully, or authority figure, but instead to demonstrate that a modern industrialized democracy can work.

While we obviously tend to emphasize most our own problems, the truth is that the rest of the world is, to a large extent, in worse shape. The needs of the third-world are obvious: hundreds of millions lack food, health, and education. But even in Europe the standard of living is often far lower than Americans suppose. In the large cities, for example, many people are crowded, lack employment, and, worst of all, lack hope.

No force on earth is as powerful as the force of compassion. If Americans realized how much good they could do for others by renewing America, then I think they would muster the will and resources to make it happen. Sometimes you can accomplish far more working on others’ behalf than you can for your own sake.

The most important thing we can do for people around the world is our setting of a positive example. If we do that, if we show that a modern democracy can work; that a society can reap the benefits of technology, and still be sustainable; that we can not just reduce chronic stress, but achieve a better quality of life than our ancestors knew; that we can replace the The System with a government of the people, by the people and for the people; and, most importantly, that people with diverse needs and interests can cooperate — then the rest of the world will follow our example.

This is our mission and our destiny. Let American’s take it to heart! We should approach our renewal not just thinking about how much it will benefit us alone, but also about its benefit for others who need our example. Despite our mistakes, other countries still look up to us. They admire our success and our freedom. Let’s not let them down!


Written by John Uebersax

January 16, 2008 at 1:52 pm

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