Commentary: International aid benefits all, including Delaware

By John D. Baker

Across the globe, including the U.S., we experience poverty, lack of health care, pollution, overpopulation and conflict/terrorism stemming from unstable, unfair, unjust economies.

Simple solution: Grow markets for U.S. jobs with environmentally aware products manufactured in the U.S. and globally. The United States achieves full employment, revenues rise, and education and health care grow, leading to a thriving middle class. “Fear of being left behind” by one group or another would be reduced, replaced by the ideals of our democratic republic’s framers.

No, I’m not high or a Pollyanna. While not a perfect plan and with room for improvement, the U.S. must get back to building and improving. Post-World War II, we built the largest middle class, sent more people to all levels of school, diversified opportunity and had the largest economy and gross domestic product in the world, while also passing civil rights and voter rights legislation.

At the root of this was our heavy investment in foreign aid, diplomacy and building markets while uplifting people. The Marshall Plan rebuilt the economies of war-torn Europe and Asia, creating huge markets for our production. And not only industrial production, but the arts, culture, humanities, fashion, movies, literature, ideals — the lists were endless.

“E pluribus unum” or “From many, one”: It is our diversity that makes us a beacon of all things great and desirable and high-minded. It took every one of us to build this country, and each successive wave of immigrants has acculturated and added to our strength. However, balance of love to hate and acceptance of all our powerful diversity over racism (and all “isms”) takes constant attention. Like riding a bicycle, we have to keep alert and maintain balance, never believing we’re “there.”

Someone will always come along and see that they can gain power by dividing and fanning flames of fear into devastating forest fires. Be like Smokey Bear: “Only you can stop forest fires” and divisive hatred. We all rise or fall together, so don’t believe otherwise. Let’s get it together. When we believe in our ideals and ourselves again, we will be able to be great global citizens again. Until then, we will fight over fewer and fewer resources, like the postapocalyptic, dystopian futures movie studios are so fond of feeding us. It’s self-perpetuating.

Mr. Rogers in 1964 saw that the new medium of television was quickly driving down to the least common denominator — the bottom. He believed that television could uplift and strengthen all viewers and, for over 40 years, he did that. It continues on in current programming around the globe — uplifting, educating and, most of all, giving hope. At a time when there were only four networks, one being public television, people still had to choose the light or the dark. Now, with thousands of media choices, you still have the power to tune out the dark and choose the light, make your own choices, then tune in to your neighbors, finding their innate goodness and encouraging that daily.

Our great philanthropists and leaders understand that we are only as safe, secure, good, healthy and educated as the least of us. Whether it’s our fellow Americans left behind by their town’s industries or agriculture or other technological advances, we as a country have failed them. We have also failed to see the human value in the countries of the great continents of Africa, South America and Asia. Trust me, though, other countries are not gazing their navels; they can they see beyond borders and see the value and are investing heavily in African, Asian and South American ports, roads, railroads and airports. They see the future.

While the U.S. is not perfect, we have at our core life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a beacon and North Star — even when some forces strive to drag us down and away from our ideals. Because of our best selves, we need to believe that we can redouble, rebuild and reignite our desire to lift up our neighbor, whether they’re next door or on the next continent.

“We the people of these United States of America in order to form a more perfect union” is better than we are behaving now.

We are not poisoning and killing our political rivals; we can still have a voice. Let’s help each other and other nations before we can’t anymore. Check out The Borgen Project at borgenproject.org and contact your congresspeople.

John D. Baker resides in Lewes.