Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
I am about half-way through an epic read of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “No Ordinary Time.” This 759-page book describes Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s life leading up to, and through, World War II. I highly recommend Goodwin’s massive work. I am awed by her detailed study and her ability to find intimate details from hard-to-find letters, interviews, and other means of investigation. Through her well-told story, one of the major themes leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor is how the Isolationists were unwilling to assist England and the rest of the Allied Forces, believing that we were safely beyond the war’s reach.
We are infinitely more global than we were in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, yet our country is going through a moment in history where we are once again hearing the echoes of Isolationist ideology. Just like Franklin’s moment in history, we too are facing real enemies who would like nothing more than to see the destruction of our nation and its democracy.
Isolationism, then and now, is the idea that our nation has its own challenges at home and our first concern should be for our own people. The problem with this belief is that when, as the most powerful nation in the world, we pull away, it leaves a vacuum in leadership and power that will be filled by other, often less-ethical world powers. I would argue that the most beneficial action Americans can do for its long-term security, is to keep a hand in the security and humanitarian needs of our world.
Many Christian groups live an Isolationist faith. They emphasize a theology based on nurturing a personal relationship with God that provides the opportunity to inherit, if not earn, a place in God’s heavenly kingdom. I believe this type of Christian theology is every bit as misguided as the Isolationist movements at different points in American history. God loves us and has marked us in baptism. Our salvation is a gift of God that we are already blessed to receive. Our task is to retain that relationship with God through prayer, worship, and caring for all God’s children, both here in our nation and throughout the world. God doesn’t see through our nationalistic lens but sees all of us as one. When any people in this world are suffering injustice, God cries. Today, pray for our commitment to see ourselves as one global people, called and blessed by God.