Every four years, U.S. citizens choose the next president. We undertake an enormous responsibility. We must choose a leader who not only best represents us but who will also make the decisions necessary to work toward our best interest.
During these days, the economy, jobs and social issues are usually at the forefront of many people’s minds.
Foreign affairs and our relationship with other countries, at least according to many pundits, while important, tend to play second fiddle to the domestic realm.
The three most prominent issues in the area of foreign policy this election cycle are limited to Iran’s nuclear program, China’s continuing rise as an economic power and asserting U.S. leadership in the world.
Perhaps it’s time that changed. Perhaps it’s time U.S. citizens – and U.S. Christians – spent a lot more time seriously considering the impact we have on citizens of other countries who share our world.
Perhaps it’s time we put their well-being and happiness at the center of our political radar as we try to decide who to place in the Oval Office.
Why should we do this?
Our world is deeply interconnected like never before. An economic crisis in one country or political upheaval in another can deeply affect all seven billion of us.
The fact that millions of Europeans could lose access to very generous state benefits and that one of the world’s strongest currencies could soon dissolve would undoubtedly hurt American investments here.
Because of this, humanity faces profound problems that can only be addressed by unparalleled international cooperation.
All countries, but the United States in particular, need to make sure they have leaders who understand this from a strategic and ethical viewpoint.
The United States needs to embrace this principle more than others because the country is still the world’s most undisputed political, social and military power.
Because of this, the United States has a profound effect on the well-being of a huge portion of the world’s population, much more so than any single country at the moment.
When the recession struck the U.S. housing market in 2008, millions of people around the world suffered the consequences – along with millions of people in the United States.
Every step the United States takes has a way of impacting other countries in ways we don’t fully appreciate or understand.
When our government supports a foreign regime that suppresses its people’s rights, when we choose to slash interest rates or raise taxes on foreign imports, many citizens of others countries can suffer consequences as well.
Sacrificing ideals in the name of short-term interests also comes back to haunt us and can put us, as Christians, in an uncomfortable position of moral compromise when we are forced to choose between the material interests of our country and our commitment to the command of Jesus Christ to love all people.
U.S. military and economic support alone is sometimes enough to ensure the longevity of a foreign government.
If that government suppresses its people or abuses them (as has been the case with a number of countries the United States has deemed close allies), it can make the people of those countries embittered against us.
History is filled with examples of this: Mohamed Rezah Shah’s Iran, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, Fulgencio Batista’s Cuba.
In one sense, Us is Them, and while it’s an enormous and mind-boggling responsibility, it is important.
So important, in fact, that U.S. citizens must appreciate the profound power their vote has not just over the lives of their fellow citizens but on the lives of millions of others around the world.
We need leaders who understand the world we live in and see others’ well-being as deeply connected to our own spiritual and political interest.
Sean Binkley is a graduate student who has studied, lived and traveled extensively in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. He is the son of Duane and Marcia Binkley, American Baptist missionaries to Thailand.