Everything Matters

When you look around at your life, are you happy?  We mean really happy.  Have you accomplished all that you hoped to at this point in your life?  Does the state of the country or even the world infringe on your feeling of happiness or unhappiness?  A better question is, do you even think about anything going on around you or are you too wrapped up in your own life?

Now we know what you are thinking.  As Joe or Jane Average, you just don't have the time to worry about events happening across the world.  The kids need help with their homework.  You have to stay late at work this week, and the boss is pushing for yet another report.  The car needs new tires, and you don't know where you're going to get the money to pay for it.  Your spouse is bugging you to attend a play/sporting event/concert, etc.  You simply don't have the energy or time left to put any thought into larger issues.  Besides, what do those larger issues have to do with you.  Someone far more important than you can handle it.

If the previous paragraph applies to you, then stop reading right now.  Take a break and do some mindless activity or take a nap.  What follows requires you to be in the correct frame of mind to understand and apply.

Okay, are you in a better place.  Are you ready to understand why everything matters?  What do we mean by everything.  We mean all of it, everything that is happening everywhere, all over the world.  We understand, it is hard to go from zero to sixty if you aren't accustomed to thinking these deep thoughts.  Remember we cautioned you to get a better frame of mind.  Now here is why everything matters in your life and those of your family and friends.

When our government officials make decisions, they are making decisions in our name.  Decisions that affect everyone we know today and everyone we have or ever will know.  We are not saying that every decision our government makes is wrong, but every one of them has an effect on us.  

In the United States, the president is in a unique position different than anyone else in the government.  Elected by all of the people, his job is to represent the entire country even though not everyone voted for him.
Michael Swanson, The War State: The Cold War Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex and the Power Elite, 1945-1963, Kindle Edition (Michael Swanson, 2013), 15
Historian Charles Beard wrote the following in 1948.
The further away from its base on the American continent the government of the United States seeks to exert power over the affairs and relations of other countries the weaker its efficiency becomes and the further it oversteps the limits of its strength the more likely it is to lead the nation into disaster - a terrible defeat in a war in Europe or Asia beyond the conquering power of its soldiers, sailors, and airmen.  If wrecks of overextended empires scattered through the centuries offer any instruction to the living present, it is that quest for absolute power not only corrupts, but in time destroys. 
Charles Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of War, 1941: Appearances and Realities (New Jersey, Transaction Publishers 2003), 592-593
At times in history it is easier to understand that hiding our heads in the sand was not an option. An example would be following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Other times it seems a bit more difficult to determine if our nation should be involved.  Often in these instances it is not a simple right or wrong and the vast majority of the population doesn't feel threatened and therefore is less likely to demand action from our government.  In fact, using Vietnam as an example, the general population was unable to even point to Vietnam on a map.  It was felt by many that if you didn't know where it was, it couldn't possibly be important enough to fight over. 

In the history of this country, we have never been in complete agreement with each other on any topic.  During the American Revolutionary War there no more than one-third of the population was in favor of independence.  This doesn't mean that the cause was wrong, it just wasn't supported by a majority of the populace.  Some historians believe that what led to the success of that war was a common belief in how to achieve the goal of independence and fighting on our "home turf".

Simply jumping ahead a generation to the War of 1812 and you see a similar support for the war, but no common goal as to what the outcome should be.  Thus after more than 2 years of fighting the borders of both countries remained the same.  Rashly jumping into a war without having an end goal could have led to the loss of that independence.  

History shows that when there is a clear and achievable goal in a location that stirs the national psyche, we tend to have success.  The less clear the goal or acting in a "political police action" the less support the general population has and the less likely we are as a nation to achieve any positive outcome from the conflict.

Should the United States continue to take on the role of police force for the world?  That is a question that each of us should answer and then convey to our representatives.  Our nation is suffering from a large number of maladies.  It may feel as though they are more significant than ever before in history, but without a true perspective that is hard to defend.  The reality is that we have our own issues.  We have a limited amount of resources and we have to choose when and where to use those resources.  Our own national interests may be threatened by terrorists or rogue nations.  We have an obligation to fight to defend our hard earned freedom, but when our armed forces take on the role of peacekeeping force then our track record is decidedly less favorable.

All of this matters to your way of life and those of your family and friends.  If resources (i.e. money) is spent on fighting a war or providing the bulk of a peacekeeping mission then those same resources cannot be used to improve your roads, increase jobs or reduce energy dependence.  We are not saying we shouldn't fight to support the American dream and lifestyle.  We are saying that no one should presume that the United States will police every bad deed perpetrated throughout the world.  This means nations having an expectation of action from us and politicians who involve us in their political machinations are on notice.  We are not obligated to act.  We will act when it is appropriate and in our national interests.  We will no longer be the place you come for a hand-out.  The monies paid to the United States government come from the blood, sweat and tears of its citizens.  It will not be spent without regard to a prioritization of need versus desire from any nation or politician.