Saturday, March 22, 2008

America—The Hope of the World?

Partway through a paragraph, I stopped reading. My mind had hung up on a gripping phrase several sentences earlier. I backtracked and reread the sentence: “History textbooks go even further to imply that simply by participation in society, Americans contribute to a nation that is constantly progressing, and remains the hope of the world.” (Lies My Teacher Told Me, pp. 257-258) There wasn’t anything exceptional about the first part of the sentence, but the last bit grabbed my attention—“a nation that is...the hope of the world.” The phrase echoed and reechoed in my head. “The hope of the world.”

Is Loewen right? I wondered. Does America consider herself the hope of the world? Maybe the reason that this statement struck me so hard was that it hit home. It had an eerie ring of truth though I had never heard anyone say anything like it before. I realized that I often did think of America this way, subconsciously supposing that she could cure any kind of problem: Are you persecuted in your home country? Immigrate to the Statues! Are you poor? Wealth is to be found in the US! Is someone somewhere in the world in trouble? Don’t worry. America will come to his aid.

America is a privileged country, so sometimes poor and persecuted people do immigrate and find wealth and release from persecution. But only a small percentage of the people in the world can immigrate to America. America cannot rescue every hurting person in the world. In fact, she cannot rescue even one. Making someone wealthy might make them comfortable for a few decades, but in light of eternity that is negligible. The same can be said for release from persecution. America may be able to give some measure of temporal relief from suffering, but can she do anything to ensure that this will have any kind of permanence?

No, of course not—only Jesus can do that. This is the strength of Loewen’s phrase “the hope of the world”—for a Christian, it should immediately bring Jesus to mind. Jesus is the only hope in a dying world. He can give the eternal life that America cannot offer. If we think of America as the hope of the world, we are breaking the First Commandment by “having something else before” Him.

God chastised the Israelites for trusting in Egypt (Is 30:1-7). To put our hope in America is as foolish now as putting one’s hope in Egypt was back then. America will never save anyone. When I think of America as the hope of the world, I am showing my preoccupation with the things that America has to offer—only things of this world. I need to remember that the greatest nation on earth is nothing to God, and only Jesus can save anyone in the eternal sense of the word.

1 comment:

Laura said...

very true--I was amazed to find that I often subconsciously think the same. While in Ireland, people were, in a way, almost obsessed with all things American--they had mickey mouse shirts, watched American movies and television shows, ate American meals, wore american college jackets, and co.
but really, there's no point--you're exactly right--America can't do much good in the end.