Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to Think Like a Christian about Imperialism

We Americans come by our imperialistic, dominant-society thinking naturally. We began as colonies of an imperial power. The British Empire was renowned for have colonies in all parts of the world. And although many of those colonies are today free and independent nations, it is still very likely that the "sun never sets on the British Empire."

The United States was one of the first to rebel against the domination and imperialism of Britain. And although many followed our lead, we did not repudiate the ideology that led to the conquest of many peoples throughout the world.

As an American, and a very patriotic one at that, I will contend that to date we have not pursued world domination in the same way that England did. But we have and are pursuing world domination nonetheless.

For most of our history we have been content to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors and others, until we are provoked. Current popular opinion believes that only in the "Bush Doctrine" have we begun to justify an attitude that instigates conflicts. But this is not true. A simple recounting of history reminds us that we rebelled against the British. We began a war with ourselves (the Civil War) to preserve the country. In this century we have engaged in war in Korea, Viet Nam, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq all without being attacked or threatened.

But we have been imperialistic in other ways.
  • Our goods and services have invaded the whole world. I was able to spend two weeks in a remote corner of Africa last year and have a Diet Coke every day. We believe that our stuff is best and we ought to conquer the world with it.
  • Our media- news, television, music, movies- is everywhere. Movie studios plan on overseas ticket sales to stay in the black. American stars are usually stars everywhere else.
  • Our culture has influenced people everywhere. It is hard to find spots where our styles and attitudes are not present.
  • Our religions have begun to conquer the world. Everywhere you go, USA is seen as a Christian nation and an enemy to other faiths. (This is a long way removed from the puritans initial quest and our founding fathers' dreams for our country.)

I think that there are many ways in which our ways, beliefs and practices can benefit all of mankind. Health care improvements, medical facilities, educational advancements, all of these are ways that we can help the world. But we must not let our advantages become disadvantages for others.

I long for all people to come to my faith. I think that it is my responsibility to help people to become Christians. This is what Jesus instructed, after all. But I want to celebrate the diversity of languages, foods and cultures that make up the world. We should be joining together holding hands, not pushing our ways onto others.

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