By Breeanna Sveum
Despite Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza strip in recent days, the dominant story in the papers and on people’s minds has been the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States.
I’ll let the Inauguration coverage slide a little because after all, it means that eight years of horror at the hands of Bush and Cheney are finally, officially over, but surely there is more going on than the swearing in of the president and vice president (okay, also the speeches and the concerts).
The problem is that many Americans are less than concerned about events that occur outside of our borders. Most people, I find, would be hard pressed to identify the reason for Israel’s invasion of Gaza, or even where the two are located.
American news is extremely self-centered, and for the most part, it is with good reason.
Few world events directly affect Americans immediately like the layoffs resulting from economic collapse.
In recent years, the government has become increasingly concerned about exporting democracy to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and the American people have become decreasingly concerned about the same in favor of American Idol and that plane that landed in the Hudson river.
It’s about time for a switch.
It’s a big wide world, and plenty of things are happening in it. Regardless of whether they affect us directly and immediately, a butterfly in Israel, can cause a hurricane in Virginia, and people should be at least be minimally aware of what’s going on.
Similarly, with two wars currently in motion, it’s time for the new administration to turn its eyes inward to focus on our more pressing problems: millions of uninsured Americans who can’t get coverage for chronic conditions, a multi-trillion dollar deficit and everyone from General Motors to the Postal Service asking for a bailout. And those are just the economic problems.
Certainly there are other countries with worse plights than ours. Darfur and Zimbabwe come to mind, for example.
Whether you think we ought to or not, it’s difficult to help other countries with the weakening value of the dollar and our economy in shambles.
We’ve heard little from the previous administration beside terrorist threats and democracy and now, as is Obama’s rallying cry, it’s time for a change.
Perhaps it’s time to think about the civil rights of same-sex couples that were discriminated out of marriage.
Maybe we should be concerned about a healthcare system that only grants proper medical care to those who can afford it, a number that keeps decreasing.
The world is a big place and much of it is far worse off than we are.
Americans would do well to know about at least the most general goings on of countries we can’t see from our borders, as well as those we can.
Likewise, the government, after eight years of looking across the border, should take a glance into our own country and our own problems.