The United States of America: Hope of the world?
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:10
Last Monday, the final debate between presidential candidates was held in Boca Raton, Fla. In about a week, the new leader of the United States of America will be decided, and all of the election hullabaloo – the campaign speeches, television ads, debates, poll numbers, voting drives, etc. – will be finished for a while.
To most people, this will come as a relief. Electing a president of a country can be a very tiring and disheartening process. Others, mainly TV pundits and opinion columnists, will be sad to see the tumult come to a close – it’s awfully good fodder.
It’s strange how much effort, sweat, tears and jeers we put into this whole debacle. Keeping up-to-date with the election – from the GOP candidate debates to the party conventions to making sure you’re registered to vote to watching debates to actually going and voting – it seems it should be a full time job.
And just like that, in about a week, it’ll all be over.
During the last presidential debate, Governor Romney said something in his closing arguments that almost made me spit out my drink.
"This nation is the hope of the earth," Romney said with his eyes, much more tired than when he first set out on this journey to try to become America’s king. I scoffed and immediately took to Twitter in my displeasure.
It was a statement I thought was chock full of American exceptionalism and the sort of US hubris that makes the rest of the world despise us and our many fast-food restaurants. Romney, in that moment, sounded a lot like an 18th century Puritan, championing our country as "the city on the hill" the rest of the globe should strive to be just like.
Yet, as I reflect on this seemingly eternal process of electing a new president, I can’t help but feel proud. Cynicism is a terribly easy path to follow. It’s not hard to let yourself feel disenchanted with the whole process, the entire country and whomever becomes president. It might even be fair of you to do so.
Romney said America is the "hope" of the earth.
Hope. What does it mean?
For many people in America, hope is the only thing that gets them through their weeks, days and even minutes. While our nation can be quite a rich and comfortable place to exist, there are many who are marginalized, suffering, or persecuted still. Anticipating a better future and a community more gracious and full with each coming day – that is what hope is for many Americans.
Like I admitted, I was totally put off by Romney’s belief that America is and should be the hope of the earth – at first. When I start to think about it, though, we, America, could be a lot worse than the hope of the world.
We could be its policeman or judge or principal, like we have in the past. We could try to be its boss or its manager.
I do fear Governor Romney’s opinion that America should be the hope of the earth is one fueled by American exceptionalist and cutthroat capitalist beliefs. However, whether he becomes president or Barack Obama stays in the oval office for four more years, we as Americans get to decide – no matter who’s in charge of running the U.S.’s day-to-day operations – what kind of example we are to the rest of the world.
We can, and maybe we should, try our best to be the hope of the earth. Not necessarily by policy or plans or political programs, but by how we treat each other and both the physical and human worlds.
I think we do a good job of being the type of people others would want to emulate during an election cycle. There is the mudslinging and the pundits and the whole political mess, but the fact we care and still feel we have a stake in choosing the direction of our country is something to be hopeful about.
So, as presidents stay or go, and as this election cycle and others come to a close, let’s approach our lives as voters, Americans and global citizens with both pride and respect – all the while maintaining a posture of humility that makes it possible for us to stay a country worth hoping for.