Everybody loves the underdog.
We relish a touching Cinderella story from time to time–the bravery and selflessness that come from reaching for a goal when the deck seems stacked highest against you. Legends are whispered to eager children and legacies passed through the generations about the qualities of one man against seemingly impossible odds.
The David and Goliath narrative is so powerful because we intrinsically connect with David–we all remember the chip on our shoulder, the times we’ve had to prove ourselves, the person or group that held us down until we rose from the perilous depths.
Nobody wants to be Goliath. Nobody believes they are Goliath. Not even shot-putters and South Beach bouncers. It seems as though Planet Fitness is cashing in on that sentiment these days:
Yet as much as each individual American identifies with David, one thing is for certain:
The world sees us as Goliath.
We’re quick to point out that we’re the only remaining superpower in the world (unless it behooves us to recognize China, or group in a resurgent Russia and pioneering India). We spend more money in one day than most sovereign states make in a year; we throw away enough food every day to feed the entire world–and feed them well, many times over.
On the global scale, we are the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Phillies, the Duke Blue Devils, the LA Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the New England Patriots and Manchester United, all rolled up into one indomitable team fit with drunken, fans and a really large, irritating mascot.
Which is totally cool! I’m a huge fan of our team and cheer every season, but…
…How is it a surprise to us that we are so despised?
I grew up in the country; for the first several years of my life I was certain that the term “backwoods” had been coined in my little podunk town in rural America. But for all the bragging we kids did growing up–for all the boasting about whose trout was bigger or how long you could hold your breath under water or who could run to the corner lightpost fastest–one thing our fathers taught us (and the wide-open spaces which we roamed reminded us) was to be humble.
Today, folks (especially on opinion-radio and television) decry the supposed death of “American exceptionalism,” as though the president should be an overly exuberant cheerleader running around the world chanting “We’re Number One! We’re Number One!” These same folks expect that the rest of the world has no pride of their own and should simply bow down to our far-superior way of doing things.
Where did we learn those manners?
Back where I come from, that hubris got you several hours shucking corn and trimming hedges while your friends laughed and had a good time down the road. It was not to be tolerated. The lesson was always this:
No matter how big you think you are, you’re never too big to be humbled.
And yet here we are, again. The eyes and hearts of the world are on the people of Egypt (as they were in Tunisia and will soon be in Yemen), and yet we hear countless media rants about how America must do this, or America must do that.
Yet the worst of it is: we eat that stuff up! We keep reading and watching this false news and imagine that somehow the people of Egypt aren’t aware of the history and example of the United States; that somehow, today, we must take direct measures to affect a course of action to support a particular side in this growing conflict. But there’s a problem for us Goliaths…
“You have folks poised to complain no matter what stance the President takes.
He’s pallin’ around with terrorists if he sides with the protesters, thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood, or he’s supporting a despot and against FREEEEEEDOM if he sides with the seated and legal government.
He will be the President who “lost” Egypt, no matter who wins out, because the Anguish Brigade doesn’t really care either way, just that this will be Obama’s Katrina Moment. And no matter the outcome, in their mind it will be, because that is the narrative that has been decided upon.
…Do too little, do too much, don’t do anything, folks are poised to paint this as a tragedy for the US.“
If you live in the black-and-white world that media personalities inhabit, the choice is either: Stability (that roughly translates into “oil” coming from the marionettes of Murdoch and the Koch family), or Instability (which translates to Islamic extremism, terrorism, a government that we don’t like, and higher oil prices [mostly the latter]). The question these people ask is not, “What is the will of the people?” but rather, “What’s in it for me?” We’re big and strong and powerful; we have McDonald’s and Wal-Mart; what do you have?
Just that little slingshot?
The worst move for the United States is to fear. The twenty-first century will not be remembered by posterity for the end of theocracies or Islamic republics; we have no right to tell a sovereign people how to govern themselves. If we stand up and say, “You’re wrong, and we’re going to do this for you,” how can we ever expect to curb the hate spouted off at us–and how can we truly wish to avoid violent outbursts from “the wronged” at our doorstep?
History has been wrought with bullies who have all met the same demise. Benevolence–not belligerence–is the cause of this new era of humanity.
(If we can’t learn this lesson, I’m sure there’s still some corn to be husked back at my place…)