In a recent issue of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria made some interesting points about the challenges to the United States’ current role as world leader. Looking at the past trends of other countries that had at one time been world powers, like Great Britain, Zakaria theorized that if the US doesn’t change certain policies, she might be doomed to demonstrate the repetition of history. Basically the US needs to remember her strengths that have made her great in the past, and apply these strengths to current dilemmas.
After watching the news for a couple minutes, anyone can notice that there are quite a few problems which need attention. First, the government focuses heavily on the importance of oil, and continues an unending struggle to obtain oil. This struggle has assumed the form of a war, and has cost the lives of many. Unfortunately, no one in the government seems to understand the fact that oil is going to run out sooner than later. So why not turn attention from oil to other sources of energy? The thought that we are sending men and women off to kill innocent people in order to obtain something that will run out in a matter of decades horrifies me.
Recently, I’ve learned that many soldiers in Iraq have gone AWOL, or absent without leave. Although the military views this as incredibly dishonorable, and AWOL soldiers are arrested if caught, I was proud when I learned of this. I was proud that soldiers are standing up, and not agreeing to kill young children and women because someone told them to. I was proud that some people are remembering humanity.
Another problem lies within the current battle against immigration. After so many years of xenophobia and nativism, some have not learned that welcoming immigrants into our country does not hurt us. In fact, Fareed Zakaria also mentioned in his article that unlike China, Japan, Germany, Russia and other industrialized countries, the US will not suffer from a population or workforce crunch in the upcoming decades because of immigration. What’s wrong with allowing people to come to America and perform labor-intensive jobs that no one wants to do? They need to get done somehow.
Unfortunately, the thought that scares me the most does not stem from either of the aforementioned problems, or the fact that the US might lose her position as number one. The thought that scares me is that most people are unaware of these problems, or how they will affect our future. When I read and learn about the nationwide attention to politics and the fierce opposition to the horrors of war during the Vietnam era, I feel sad no such spirit exists in my generation. My generation needs to pick up the pieces of a shattered economy, mend the broken hearts of soldiers, and build a new path for the United States that leads us to demonstrate compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves.
Karyn Meshbane is a junior majoring in Neuroscience. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.