Editor, Views From Abroad
From The Editor
Like it or not, we live in an increasingly shrinking world. “Make America Great Again” may sound enticing as a political slogan, but it’s as far removed from our everyday reality as it gets.
Nearly everything we buy nowadays in our department stores or online—from automobiles to small appliances, from electronic gadgets and TV sets to tools and articles of clothing—all are made elsewhere, with foreign parts, foreign sweat, and foreign labor. And the same goes for our news consumption, instant communications, and social media, thanks to the internet, the iPhone, and Facebook.
No part of the world and no person in it, remote as either may be from our geographical location, is too far removed from us to escape immediacy and proximity—two critical dimensions of our ever-shrinking world. Indeed, the world we live in is becoming increasingly immediate, all-too-familiar, and almost devoid of strangers. And it’s scary!
And so, we perceive these developments as posing a threat to our identity as persons. Consequently, lest we get absorbed in the global “melting pot”—a term that once carried a positive connotation — and become indistinguishable in the process, we feel we must redefine ourselves in terms of our nationality, ethnicity, and culture so that we reassert our uniqueness.
It’s a natural human response, but it can go too far, especially if the main thrust of our efforts is to ward off the invading hordes —the barbarians at the gates —and insulate ourselves thus from their corrupting influence. Besides, it’s a futile one, too, for no amount of wall-building, whether symbolic or real, and no dose of anti-immigration rhetoric can stave off the process or even delay it.
And yet, even if we resist the vulgar impulse that can result in nothing other than isolationism, tribalism, or a misguided sense of populism, problems abound. Since the identity crisis we all experience is a real one, we still run the risk of becoming too comfortable in our worldview, too confident that ours is the correct perspective, too cocksure that we have the sole monopoly on truth.
Our section provides a badly needed corrective. And the aim is to elevate the quality of our discourse, redirect it towards more productive results and more enlightened responses, elicit reasoned views and opinions from our colleagues worldwide— in short, to open an honest dialog on matters that affect us all.
Only in that environment, characterized by a spirited discussion and a free-flowing exchange of ideas, can we hope to rid ourselves of parochialisms that may have crept into our thinking and made it unfit to the challenge. Only then, armed with another perspective, can we better understand not only what’s happening in our neck of the woods but elsewhere. Only then we’ll be able to face the brave new world boldly, with open eyes and unflinching hearts.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Stan Denham (aka Stan the Man) from Adelaide, South Australia, our first contributor to what I hope to be a fruitful and thought-provoking section.
Stan has a lifelong history in journalism and political activism, and he is still very much at the grindstone. He is an old colleague, too, from Blogcritics, where he was a frequent commenter. We’ve had many heated discussions on the pages of that good old blogging platform, but the one I remembered the most concerned the subject of “American exceptionalism.” In no time have I become a convert.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Stan is at it again. This time, he’s alerting us to some of the harmful effects of this myth on American political thought.
Let’s all extend Stan Denham a warm round of applause and welcome him to our grassroots community for change!