by Dan Haseltine
We can agree to some extent that we are, as Christians, afforded the opportunity to think outside of the paradigm of nationalism, and transcend the idea of “our own,” as simply an indicator of citizenship within our American borders. But what does it mean for the government of the U.S., as it attempts to operate inside the confines of the Constitution? Is the Federal government bound to do the work of caring for the poor both inside and outside of the U.S?
If you ever have the opportunity to sit in meetings where diplomacy is discussed, you will hear the terms, soft diplomacy and hard diplomacy. Hard diplomacy is what it sounds like it would be. It is the U.S. military hammer. It is the use of force to persuade change and subdue uprisings that endanger what the American government has identified as a threat to democracy and freedom. Depending on which version of the Federal Budget you reference, the American taxpayer contributes 40% to 51% of tax dollars to keep that hammer operational. If you ask the opinion of military experts whose main concern is the protection of democracy and our borders, you will hear them spend a great deal of time elevating the importance and means of “soft diplomacy.”
Soft diplomacy represents all the areas we, as a nation, contribute toward the wellbeing, health and flourishing of people both in and outside of our borders. To put it back in the realm of Christianity, you might say, as a nation, we truly adhere to the idea that kindness does lead to repentance, relationship and ultimately love. And love drives out fear, which is the main ingredient necessary for hate to boil into violence.
Every dollar that we spend investing in the eradication of disease, hunger, poverty, corruption, scarcity of education and opportunity, both in the U.S. and in other developing countries is a means of diplomacy that effectively makes our costly military hammer obsolete. Nothing in our world has been so efficient in creating animosity and extreme hatred as when a nation, in plain sight, with an abundance of vaccines, expertise, innovations, and resources chooses to withhold them from other humans who find themselves caught in the grip of scarcity. When a parent watches their child die from a preventable disease, or a child watches a parent die from a lack of basic sustenance, within reach of the blazing light of withheld rescue, it fuels a potent dissonance. In the mind of that child or adult, steeped in the truth of their inherent human value, is the notion that those with abundance do not see them as people worthy of help, rescue or investment. No one loves a selfish nation. Ultimately, a withholding nation will create such powerfully justified enemies willing to return the inhumane perception right back upon it. So it is with great dismay and wildly ignorant will that we look at the programs that provide food, shelter, water, and opportunity to others as something so readily expendable as a means of shoring up and “taking care of our own.” It simply isn’t how the world works.
If you can believe it, we spend less than one percent of our federal budget on “soft diplomacy” and we wonder why America continually faces a steady growth of hatred toward our form of democracy. If you want to keep your kids out of harm’s way, be generous. If you want to actively prevent war, be generous. If you want to love your neighbor to the end that love is victorious, be generous. Not only to the people inside our constructed border concepts, but to everyone. Stop being an obstacle for immigrants, stop being a hindrance to the programs that serve the poor. Be an advocate for them. If America is first at anything, it must be first in the overwhelming swell of generosity to the nations of the earth and the God-created human beings who dwell upon it.
Do not be afraid.
** The views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are solely those of the author, and may not reflect the views and opinions of CCM and Salem Media.