Not knowing what I wanted to write about in my blog today, I thought I would check out my Facebook page for inspiration. One friend posted a quote from Bryant McGill:

“What we want for others doesn’t work unless they want it for themselves.”

I don’t know exactly what McGill was thinking when he wrote this. I can imagine it referring to a difficult relationship in which one wishes another person would change in order to make them easier to live with.

But this morning, with the situation in Iraq heating up, I think about the various military actions the U.S. has taken since the world wars. What would the world look like if we hadn’t played the role of policeman or savior over the years? I am not blaming the U.S. for the problems that exist, just pondering how history would have played itself out without all the military “help” we have so willingly expended.

I am a parent educator, so I tend to slip into parenting images when I try to figure things out. I remember a video I used to show parents how to handle conflicts between fighting children. The point was to show parents that too much intervention is not always the best way to show kids how to handle their differences. Better to ask questions that helped them to express their own point of view and their feelings. The goal is to coach them to talk to one another and find solutions that are mutually agreeable with the hope that over time they will get the hang of it and be able to manage things without the parent stepping in. Believe it or not, this is very much like the methods used by legal negotiators and even international peace teams.

I know, it seems silly to apply this principle to international affairs. We are not, after all, the parent to the world nations just as we are not the policeman or the savior.  The higher you go up the chain of relationships, the more complex things become. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder if it will ever become possible for the U.S. to be able to take on a different role on the world stage.

An addendum: I heard once that George Washington wanted to abolish the army after the states had achieved independence from England. With their mission accomplished, he didn’t see the need to continue to have one. Congress didn’t agree. Now, had they gone along with their new president…that would have altered the course of history big time.