what we don’t know (or, worse, don’t care) about the world will hurt all of us

The EU

This morning over coffee Rebekah and I were talking about the election results in France. We agreed that the Sarkozy government probably fell – in part – as a reaction to the Germany-led austerity plans in Europe.

She guessed a French uneasiness with a powerful Germany having so much pull. I agreed, but pointed out the challenge (in France, or any sovereign nation) of even understanding E U (European Union) economic policy when domestic systems (France, Germany, Italy, Greece….) of governance are so varied and ideologically incompatible.

Last week our son, Andrew, gave me a couple of Ukrainian English language news magazines. One interesting article examined the difficulty inherent in developing a “European” mindset when the history, economies, policies, priorities, languages, and cultures of its member and ancillary nations are so diverse and complex.

GOTTCHA! Right now, a lot of you are wondering what on earth this conversation about Europe has to do with:

  1. The Life-Charged Life content of this blog, or
  2. Our lives as (primarily) Americans living thousands of miles away in a country mired in its own political and economic confusion.

Well here it is. I believe an important element of this life-charged life must involve a deliberate effort to develop a global mindset and an ongoing choice to begin to understand ourselves as Citizens of the World.

What do we know about the world?

POP-QUIZ: We’ve all seen those 20-question pop-quiz items that circulate the Internet. They typically involve “Are you smarter than a 5th-grader” questions and then compare individual results with key demographics.

The pitch usually involves statements such as, “Less that 20% of Americans know why there are 13 stripes on the flag!” or, “Only 5% of people in your age group know enough about the three branches of government to pass a simple test!”

But the most damning statistics always seem to involve Geography. Americans may be terrible when it comes to U.S. Geography, but we’re beyond abysmal when it comes to facts beyond our borders.

Now add World History and Political Science to the mix and it’s a wonder that the TV people still come up with enough people to play a new game of Jeopardy! five nights a week.

We’re all connected

BOTTOM LINE: Like it or not, all Seven Billion people who live on this planet are connected. We are connected economically, we are connected politically, and – increasingly – our shared reliance on the same FINITE stock of resources is making a difference in pretty-much every decision that we make.

More important is the fundamental connection that we share in terms of our physical and spiritual DNA. We are related biologically, and we are related spiritually.

Citizens of the World

We are all children of the Living God; and what we don’t know about this world we live in – we don’t know about ourselves. – DEREK


  1. Actually, you and Rebekah are such fascinating, attrative people that I never wondered where you were headed … I just happily followed along. Just call me a lemming. Charles


    • OK, I admit that we were not engaged in typical morning coffee small-talk… But this world IS a fascinating place, isn’t it?

      … especially in the company of good people like you….


  2. Derek,
    I couldn’t agree with you more! I majored in PoliSci and minored in International Studies at VCU and being knowlegable about the world around us is essential to being a true life-charged individual. I value the knowledge I have and so don’t understand why there are so many others out there who don’t care about the rest of the world and what goes on. I know many will disagree with you about how we are ALL connected spiritually, but I don’t and so very appreciate your words of wisdom. I always feel that there are many in this country with the attitude of ‘our way or the highway’ and that somehow we put our pants on differently than everyone else; that God blesses us above all other nations. I’ve always liked that bumper sticker that says, ‘God Bless the World’.
    Speaking of bumper stickers, I saw one this morning with a MLK, Jr. quote that I think appropriate (my inclusion here may be a bit paraphrased): ‘The most dangerous thing in the world are people who are sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid’.


  3. Hi, Derek! Outside of being able to see some geographic divisions from space like Iceland or the British Isles, we really can’t see many political divisions from space. We can’t see many distinct political borders from space. God created a planet without political boundaries and we are all citizens of this fragile planet. Economics is fundamentally the study of scarcities and yes, everything is scarce. There is only so much potable water and your observation that everything on this Earth is finite is of crucial importance for all of us 7 billion fragile planetary inhabitants. Competition for our scarcities can and has led to awful wars. This is why schools in this nation need to reemphasize geography and history and the other social sciences to see what our place on this planet is in relation to the other nations. It’s sad that religion is so often used as a further divider of people and we so vitally need thoughtful and contemplative people like you and Rebekah. We need your kind of global literacy. And we’ve never needed it so badly as we do now. Peace and Blessings, Henry.


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