For most of the years of my life, I have not thought about what the world thinks of the United States. Part of me said who cares? Part of me thought that caring about what the world thinks would be relinquishing control to the world for everything about my country.
OK, maybe I am maturing as I get closer to 50.
OK, maybe I am moving a little left of where I have been for most of my adult years.
Or maybe what I am trying to do is get more of a world view.
I’ll take the blame or credit (depending on your perspective) for this change in attitude.
Recently, Rammstein, a German industrial metal group, recently released their fourth album, Reise, Reise worldwide. It is available this week in the United States. The song in particular that caught my attention is the single, "Amerika." My first contact with the song was by way of the video that was released earlier this fall. Since the lyrics were in German, I was required to make the leap from the pictures on the video to the meaning of the lyrics. It seemed all too easy to understand the meaning of the song.
Thank goodness for translators for those of us who are uni-lingual. There is another column in that phrase but it'll be for a later time. The music of the world (including this song) along with subscribing to 3 daily foreign newspapers, have opened my eyes to a world view that most Americans chose to ignore.
In the song, "Amerika," the lyrics take the form in what our country is saying to the world:
"when there is dancing, I want to lead
even when you are whirling around alone
let yourselves be controlled a little
I’ll show you how it really goes."
Is this really how our country is viewed by the rest of the world? The world perceives America must always lead all of the time including when we are not asked to. Do we have the attitude that we know how the world should be and the rest of the world should come in line if they know what is good for them?
"I know moves that are very useful
and I will protect you from missteps
and whoever doesn't want to dance to the end
doesn't know yet that they must."
Obviously, America gives the indication of desiring to be all powerful and all controlling is this attitude we want to portray to a world, whether it is in the area of foreign policy or our culture? Rammstein seems to be saying just that. The newspapers from allied countries say the same thing.
Why do we continue to act like we do in a world that needs to have someone or some country show, by example, how to live in peace, not oppressing power? Are we really better than the countries and their dictators that we condemn and try to control?
“We’re all living in amerika
Amerika is wonderful”
Well, most in America would say we truly believe we are wonderful but the world seems to be saying this sarcastically. They are also saying because of the influences that we have, everyone in the world is living at least in part, with and “in” America. What the world is hoping to see in America is a country that leads by example and not by force or corporate influence.
The final chorus shows the political and the cultural consequences of our attitude.
“We’re all living in amerika
Coca-cola, sometimes war
We’re all living in amerika
Is this the impression we continue to leave with the billions around the world? Are we telling the world we are interested in profit and power above all else? For a lone world power, shouldn’t our exports be peace not war, true assistance instead of profit and financial gauging, health not death and destruction?
Maybe I’m dreaming but I believe we would be readily respected and honored as a country if we showed our good side with freedom, compassion, and support, instead of the imperialistic side the world has come to despise.
It won’t happen with troops stationed all over the world. It won’t happen when we refuse to offer a helping hand in lieu of making a profit from a people that can hardly afford to eat. We are placing profit above all. Capitalism is not a bad thing but how do to we show compassion (as our president talked about in 2000)? Can we show the world a caring country willing to assist in stopping the AIDS crisis in Africa? Can we show the world a powerful leader that cares about the little guy?
It won’t happen when we ignore the needs at home and around the world. It won’t happen when we tell the world to do as we say, not as we do.
America, I love you. America, you are a great place to live. But America, we have missed the boat on showing the world our better side.
And that’s no bull.