Thoughts on the G8: put the world first.

An editorial from the Boston Globe is calling the G8 leaders to “cooperate now – and not make vague promises for the distant future.”  After describing the issues under discussion, the authors have this to say:

But the cause of diminished donations to Africa and of failure to agree on adequate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions is one and the same: the determination of each G-8 leader to defend his or her country’s perceived interests above a common global interest. This is why Bush avoided any commitment to specific near-term cuts in carbon emissions, accepting only a vague G-8 target of a 50 percent reduction by 2050.  […] 

The old model of national interests conflicting with the interest of humanity is a danger to G-8 members and every other country in the world.  [Emphasis mine.]

I really appreciate this article because I think it cuts to the bottom line in a way that is far too uncommon in discussion of global issues.  Progress on problems that affect the whole of humanity will never get as far as it needs to when nations continually serve their limited, often selfish, short-term interests at the expense of the world’s needs.  It’s especially tragic when rich, powerful countries turn their back on situations – and, more to the point, people – they have the resources to genuinely help.

(Parenthetical comment: To take just a tiny example: several senators are blocking the re-authorization of PEPFAR because they say it costs too much.  Have they looked at US military spending lately?  Whatever you think about the validity of US military policy or activities in general, or current conflicts in particular, it’s kind of absurd to say that $50 billion dollars over five years – money that could save literally millions of lives – is a waste, especially considering the amount of money being spent elsewhere in the budget.)

In a sense, it’s not surprising that countries are selfish when it comes to national and international issues.  People are selfish.  That’s one of those effects of sin in the world.  But what really mystifies and frustrates me is when Christians advocate actions taken “in the national interest” (whatever nation that happens to be) when to do so is counter to the interest of humanity as a whole, especially the most vulnerable among us.

We Christians believe God created, sustains, knows, and loves every human being.  He doesn’t play favorites.  All people matter to Him; all are made in His image.  That’s Theology 101 stuff.  If we call ourselves followers of Christ, we must do our best to conform our perspective to God’s.  All people – regardless of economics, politics, or geography – are equally important to God.  They should be equally important to us too.  We have no right to care for the interests of our own countries (or other “in-groups”) above those of others.  Maybe that’s part of what it means when we say “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
 

I hope I haven’t gotten too preachy here.  This is something I’ve thought about a lot, and feel strongly.  Anyway, I figure this wouldn’t quite be a real blog if I didn’t get to have a few soapbox moments now and then.  Please do read the article: it says some good stuff very well, and if nothing else should be able to make you think.

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~ by h.e.g. on July 10, 2008.

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