Fareed Zakaria, author of Post-American World, in Newsweek just a few weeks ago, posted an enriching opinion article on the rise of the West beginning in the 15th Century, the rise of America, beginning in the 19th Century and we are watching before us, as we write in the 21st Century, the 'rise of the rest'. The 'rest' are countries such as China, India, Russia and Brazil. These countries are fast becoming super powers, financially speaking, in our exploding global economy. Anybody own International mutual funds? Have you seen the growth?!
I highly encourage you to read the Newsweek article entitled The Rise of the Rest. Zakaria goes into detail about globalization and how America has been one of the leading proponents of globalization. Ironically, we don't seem to want to change with the rest of the world too quickly, however. Small, but important, example: there are only 3 countries in the world that don't use the metric system: Liberia, Myanmar and the United States! I don't see the other two countries as up to date, do you?!
Despite what I thought I might feel before reading the article, I surprisingly felt encouraged and challenged when I finished it. Zakaria challenges Americans and American culture and business to continue to globalize and change with the rise of the rest of the world. In this, a very important political year, we have some key leadership decisions to make, as voting citizens. Will we choose to rise with the coming international tide or risk losing our competitive advantages?
I agree with Zakaria, we have a strong competitive advantage that is unique to us as Americans. By our historical acceptance of immigrants and by our system of prosperity and freedom that inspires so many poor immigrants to come to this country and aspire to make more of themselves, we have become prosperous. We need to not limit this advantage. It creates in us as a culture so much joy, enthusiasm and hope to know that we can do anything we want here in America. We can be anything we set our minds and hearts to do. We can have anything we desire. We can worship freely here. 'What freedoms we have here compared to the rest of the world!!', we say. Meanwhile, China, India, Russia and Brazil have seen this prosperity and learned from us (my opinion) and now we're seeing those countries quickly rise too.
While here in the US, over the last 10 years, recent polls (mentioned in the Newsweek article) have shown that we are increasingly more negative about our own country that ever before. Let's not let this continue! Wouldn't you rather want God-given freedoms than more government setting more and more boundaries and rules for you? We have as big a potential as we've ever had to lead once again in all industry or, atleast, be competitive. It will take leadership and inspiration for our country to feel and experience again what the 'rest' of the world seems to be experiencing today.
A wise man recently told me "Rising Tides Lift All Ships". We must share in the overall rise of the tide of the rest of the world. We played a large role in the rising of that tide. There are tremendous economic opportunities for our country in the coming decades - however, we must be willing to adapt to the natural globalization that is occuring amongst us. Our world is getting smaller - let's embrace it and not fight it or hide from it.
This brings me to my final point. As Christians, how are we going to let globalization affect us? Are we to hide in our American bubble or be open to what God is doing around the world? As Christians, are we going to embrace different cultures in our own communities? For years, we've been sending missionaries outside the United States and brought our culture to their world. Now, God is giving us a gift back - we see more and more missionaries coming to America from other countries. And, they are bringing their unique culture to our country. Are we going to accept this gift as freely as we've expected others to accept ours?
More specifically, what are we going to do with Christian music and worship music? How much longer will we primarily export our 'brand' of music to the world? What about other cultures? What would happen if we went to church on Sunday and your worship leader began teaching you a new powerful translated song originally written in another tongue? What if it was arranged with unique instrumentation or a different genre like tribal dance or even dance/trance/electronic music? It would be kinda cool for a weekend. But, what if this continued Sunday after Sunday for weeks? Would that rock your comfort zone? How would we respond? What are we afraid of? I say, let's embrace the new emerging genres and music that God is giving to musicians, artists and churches around the world. Let the American church receive it! Let's enjoy the rising tides to come! Embrace the global culture and watch your ship be lifted higher than you would have ever imagined in your American bubble!
Click on this link to view Fareed Zakaria's four reasons why America will stay competitive in a changing world:
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