Monday, January 31, 2011

Life inside the bubble

I'll admit it. I don't know a whole lot about what's going on in Egypt. But I'm learning more each day. If you had asked me 10 days ago who their president was, (it's Hosni Mubarak by the way, for the time being) I would have had no clue . And that's sad.

As Americans, we are incredibly isolated from the rest of the world. And for the most part, we view that as a good thing. We only share borders with 2 countries, one of whom is viewed as a big-ass 51st state by most of us. The other one is largely looked at as our supplier of cheap labor and a place to get drunk on spring break.

So when hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to protest their government in a land over 6,000 miles away, we barely bat an eyelash. Just another group of weird foreigners getting upset about some shit that doesn't affect me.

Except that it does.

Despite our geographically removed location, we are more involved in what happens around the world than any other nation. Our interests and our influence reach nearly ever country, on every continent.

US-built tanks and weapons are on the ground in Egypt. Our relationship with Israel, and by extension the rest of the middle east, has deep roots in our ties with Egypt. We rely on Egypt for intelligence assistance. And their control over the Suez canal makes them a big player on the global trade stage.

And that's just a very simplified look at things. The reality is much messier and more complex. Which explains why the US is currently taking a pretty moderate approach to the whole process.

But my guess is that most Americans don't even know about all that. Or care. The only concern they probably have is if it will increase the likelihood of terrorism here at home. The short answer to that question seems to be 'maybe'. Revolution is rarely pretty. And the emotions run high on all sides. You never really know how it's going to play out.

But we should be concerned with much more than terrorism. Not just now, but always. We've created a government (yes, we created it, we elected these people) that has put our nation in a position of tremendous influence. So we must accept the responsibility that goes along with that influence. That means we can't sit back and pretend the rest of the world doesn't matter.

At some point we need to turn off "The Biggest Loser" and read a newspaper. Maybe even crack open a book or two. I know that sounds soooooo boring but it's absolutely necessary.

Because, if the recent economic collapse has taught us anything, it's that all bubbles burst eventually.

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