This is a guest article by Silvio Aladjem MD
I have always written medical blogs as you may know if you ever read one of them. I am making an exception today, as the title of this write-up indicates and I beg your indulgence since I am not a political commentator.
I do, however, like soccer, I grew up with it, played it as a youngster and now I am enjoying watching it from the comfort of my home. The World Cup is the quintessence of the game watched by several billion people all around the globe.
Yet, every four years, as the games are about to begin, I read and hear commentaries by reporters and radio or television show hosts, which invariably have the purpose of telling their listeners that soccer is a boring game (which it is not, if you watched USA vs Portugal game), that does not have enough goals (true, but the tighter the score the better the game) and that the players tend to fake injuries hoping the referee will sanction the opposite team (true, but it’s part of the show). Then they conclude that soccer has no future in the USA (wrong, judging by the number of fans that went to Brazil or were watching the game throughout the country- as the ESPN ratings demonstrates), and finally tell us “give me a baseball, football or basketball game any time” (nothing wrong with that)
What has all this to do with US foreign policy? It occurred to me that we usually judge everything by what we do or like to do here in this blessed USA. What’s more, we do not try to comprehend what other people like for themselves and, a priori, we dismiss it as unreasonable. We try to instill others with our values, for which they do not necessarily care, we want for them to have a democratic state, when they have a tribal mentality with which they lived for thousands of years, have respect for human rights, when that concept is foreign to them, or have freedom of religion , which has been a heresy for most of the world, forever .(remember why the pilgrims came to America?)
If we were to reverse the sequence of events, i.e. learn about other people’s way of life, with thousands of years of traditions behind them, accept that their constitution, if they have one, is not ours, and that giving them the latest iPad will not make them our unconditional friends, than perhaps we may be more successful in our foreign policy.
See the correlation? We don’t accept soccer because it’s not like football, baseball or basketball. We don’t even try to understand the game, before dismissing it as we do. This attitude, fortunately, doesn’t hurt anyone and it will not slow down the soccer games around the world or the World Cup which will continue to happen every four years. Unfortunately, in foreign policy matters, our attitude creates enemies and conflicts, hate and hurt, wars and terrorism, and we wonder why?
I am perfectly aware that my logic will, for some, be a reductio ad absurdum. I beg to differ. People in charge of foreign policies are no different from the television show or radio hosts that dismiss soccer. They just happen to be in a different business. Their frame of mind is the same and it only perpetuates the wrongdoing of their policies.
SILVIO ALADJEM MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist and Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk obstetrics) specialist, is Professor Emeritus in obstetrics and gynecology at Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, in Lansing, MI. He is the author of “10,000 babies: my life in the delivery room” now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. Dr. Aladjem published extensively in Scientific Medical Journals and wrote several textbooks in the specialty. He can be reached through his website, www.drsilvio.com