Kennedy's 'Postcards from
Jonal entry 899 | Friday, August 5, 2005
The first serious political thought I may have hadcertainly the first "world"-oriented such thoughtoccurred when I was age seven or eight, when my Mom asked that we pray for the Christians in China who had been forced to flee to the island of Taiwan and to Hong Kong (a British colony adjacent to mainland China at that time) by the Communists who had taken over China. They were living in thousands of boats parked in the Hong Kong harbor. Radio missionary Bob Hammond explained that Communists were enemies of Christianity who persecuted and often even killed our spiritual brothers and sisters for their faith. And though I can't recall how explicitly he said it, he also conveyed the message that countries like the United States must stand up to the Communists throughout the world, lest the same fate come to us all. This was even a little before the word "McCarthyism" had become popular among American leftists who opposed government efforts to stop the spread of Communism here, and before the United States went to war over Korea, probably mainly to send a message to China.
I was reminded of this on Wednesday when a member of the Nanty Glo list sent out a little tease asking: "is that great sucking sound of jobs going south about to get louder? Did our great leader just sign the 'Central America/Dominican Republic act' into law?" I had honestly never heard of "CAFTA" before receiving that email, but my first thought was, "love thy neighbor," meaning our third-world neighbors in Central America and the Dominican Republic. And although I still insist I am not an "economic conservative" (but, rather, mainly a "social" one) my second thought was that the jobs that would be sucked away would probably provide less family support than welfare. But the more I thought about it, the more surprised I was that I actually care about this issue and the need for corrective information about it, like the fact that if such poor countries can lure industries from the United States they must be able to provide the goods such industries produce more economically than we can, and that fact aligns, ironically, with the first principle of liberalism rather than anything in conservativism, Darwin's "survival of the fittest."
My mother's lesson about the Christians in Hong Kong Harbor has undoubtedly influenced many threads of my thinking ever since. It was undergirding the Christian principle that it is for others, not ourselves, that we are called to live. That the gospel must be made real in people's lives through agape (unconditional love that motivates missionaries to sacrifice their own lives to witness the truth to others in darkness), to share not only the wealth but the poverty of those we love, and as I came to appreciate in later years, "those" are all the multitudes inhabiting God's great earth.
America is a land of so much opportunity than anyone who can't creatively come up with a better way to make more money than textile workers in Central America needs more help than protectionist government policies are likely to provide. But it's also true that if the world's poor nation's don't start to share in our wealth, there will be no growing markets for American products and services that range from video games to movies and music to software, high technology hardware, medical technology and treatments, and thousands of other items we make better than anyone else, and that we market globally.
Helping to build the economies of our distressed neighbor nations by letting them get into the game...or foreign aid? Which is more economical in the long run; which produces better results? And putting first things last, which is more biblical, Christlike, and God-honoring?
Webmaster Jon Kennedy