gaining perspective

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Gaining Perspective

Gaining Perspective on Global Trends 2030 Our Place in the Global Community

One of our goals this semester is to think critically about our place as a nation within the global community. How do we fit within the global society? Are we still a world leader? If so, what are our advantages as a world leader? What are our disadvantages? What are our responsibilities? And, if we position ourselves as a world leader, or the world leader, what responsibilities do we have toward the people of the world?1

Is America still the worlds leader? US leads the world inObesityMental DisordersSmall Arms Ownership# of Gun DeathsIncarceration #sEnergy Use per PersonHealth ExpendituresStudent Loan DebtTeen PregnancyDefense Spending

But, US also leads in# of Olympic MedalsBeef, corn, and cheese production# of BillionairesMost powerful army# of roads# of plastic surgeonsWine consumption

I began my research for this lecture by asking the question, Is America still the worlds leader? Keep in mind that we have been seen as, and we have seen ourselves as, the worlds leader since WWII when we swooped in, like the cavalry in an old Western, to save the day. Because we got into WWII late, our allies were worn out, their troops were exhausted, their artillery was depleted, and we stepped in and helped turn the tide of the war. We were heroes then. We were the worlds heroes.

So, each of us grew up with the idea, and perhaps rightfully so, that we are the greatest nation on Earth. We have been taught this since childhood. But I wonder, is that still true? We no longer lead the world in exports, manufacturing, or education. So where exactly do we stand on the global stage? We lead the world in each of the areas on the left, as well as other areas. But, the news is not all bad; we are also number one in the areas listed in the right-hand column.2

The US Ranks36th in education19th in national satisfaction44th in health care efficiency66th in religious diversity24th in literacy23rd in gender equality60th in the cost of food23rd in wage distribution

These are our rankings in some areas that matter dearly. These are not the only rankings that are available, but these are current, verifiable, and more importantly are some of the areas that will be discussed in Global Trends. 3

The Bottom LinePerception does not equal Reality

Our perception of ourselves and our country does not always match up with the reality of our situation on the global stage.

We arent the worst, but we arent the very best all the time either. No nation can be at the top of every category. But it is important to understand where we are with regard to our place currently on the world stage. It seems that our perception of ourselves as the greatest nation on Earth does not always equal the reality of our situation when compared with other nations.4

And yetI watched the crestfallen faces of people who had not been able to pass the test and would have to come back and try again. I saw the incredible joy on the faces of others who could hardly believe their good fortune at finally achieving a long-sought and hard-won battle.For most of the people in the room, even with all its challenges, America was still the land of opportunity.

And yet, even though we dont rank close to number one in some very important areas, there is still a sense of national pride that is passed down to our children. There is still the sense that we still are the greatest nation on Earth.

This excerpt is from an article by Shirley Mullen, President of Houghton College in New York. Dr. Mullen is originally from Canada, but moved to the US, and then waited many years before deciding to become a naturalized citizen. She wrote this article about her experience of becoming a US citizen, and the excerpts that I have pulled from her article deal with the day of the her exam and interview.

She went on to talk about the stories that people told while they waited for their interviews and to find out if they had passed their test. Some had fled their own countries and were living in refugee camps before coming to America. They talked about feeling as if they would never be settled again, that they would never have a real home but would drift from one place to another. These people were especially awed by the fact that the US was willing to offer them sanctuary and to allow them to become citizens.

She talks about the American Dream. What does that represent traditionally? What does it represent today? Is it still important to Americans, or only to those disenfranchised people who seek to attain citizenship?

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The idea that people from many backgrounds, religions, and cultures can actually forge a peaceful nation state around the ideals of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happinessstrengthened rather than weakened by diversityis still a surprise on the world stage and is not something to be taken for granted. I wished that all Americans born in this country could see their privileged status as someone coming into it for the first time (Shirley Mullen 6.29.15).

She also talks about the fact that not every nation offers citizenship to visitors to their country; in fact, many nations do not. She goes on to say that she wishes that all Americans born in this country could see their privileged status as someone coming into it for the first time. While we recognize that someone paid for the privileges that we have through founding a new nation, through fighting in a war, through struggling and protesting for rights such as voting rights and civil rights it does seem that we take for granted the privileges with which we are born. What are some of those privileges that we have simply by being born American? 6

How have we moved from the ideals of the American dream and the dream of many in the world to the place we hold in the world today?

Then I asked myself how it happened that we moved so far from the ideals of the American Dream to the place we are today (i.e., 36th in education, 44th in health care efficiency, 23rd in wage distribution, etc.). What happened? If the US is the greatest nation on Earth, then why are we #1 in national satisfaction? 7

Privilege and ResponsibilityThe easiest temptation, my friends, is to take things for granted to become blas about the unique privileges weve been born with.

Dan Hannan is a member of the British Parliament and presented this speech in 2014 at CPAC. He talks about the US/UK partnership in terms of the two nations being partners in democracy, partners in freedom, etc. These comments are directed to the American people.8

We could so easily fall into the error of assuming that freedom and free contract, regular elections, uncensored newspapers, jury trials with habeas corpus, equality between men and women that these things are somehow the natural condition of an advanced society, that every country will get them, when they become educated enough and wealthy enough. But history tells a very different story (Dan Hannan, 4.8.14).

The interesting thing here is the idea of these privileges being the natural condition of an advanced society, meaning that all nations will eventually attain the rights and privileges we have. He points out that history tells a very different story. There are many nations who are older than the US, but they still have not attained the same privileged status.

So then, what is the difference? Why do some nations grow and others stagnate? Is it lack of leadership? Misuse of natural resources (and if this is the case, wouldnt we agree that we have not misused our resources)? These are a few of the questions that Global Trends will prompt us to think about this semester.9

America must always lead on the world stage. If we dont, no one else will (Barack Obama 5.28.14).

In his commencement address at Westpoint in May of 2014, President Obama stated, America must always lead on the world stage. If we dont, no one else will. Now, of course, he was talking to cadets who graduated to become military officers, so the speech deals heavily with militaristic ideas. However, he does go on to tell them that military power is not the only way that we need to lead. What do you think of this statement? Must we always lead? Will no one else step in to lead, and do we need to be careful about who is poised to become the next superpower? 10

The National Intelligence Council

Who We Are:

The National Intelligence Council supports the Director of National Intelligence inhis role as head of the Intelligence Community (IC) and isthe ICs center for long-term strategic analysis. Since its establishment in 1979, the NIC has served as a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, a source of deep substantive expertise on intelligence issues, and a facilitator of Intelligence Community collaboration and outreach.

The NICs National Intelligence Officers drawn from government, academia, and the private sectorare the Intelligence Communitys senior experts on a range of regional and functional issues.

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The National Intelligence CouncilWhat We Do:

Within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the NIC carries out its mission under the direction of the Deputy Director for Intelligence Integration and the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and C