It was a beautiful Sunday morning driving up to First Lutheran Church in Savage, Montana. I follow the Yellowstone River Valley the distance. Once you get to Savage the river doesn’t have far to go until it joins with the ‘mighty’ Missouri. William Clark followed this route on the return trip of the expedition in 1806. Today the road belonged to the trucks loaded with sugar beets heading to a nearby dump.
We are in the midst of our January thaw which we hope will continue. The snow from December has settled and iced over. To look at the distant hills is to see them shining like a skating rink. Folks are out pushing ice around and attempting to clear off some other patches. It is supposed to get cold again, but so far not like December and snow is predicted but amounts are questionable. Winds are in the forecast for this week.
It is always good to get January under our belts -- longer days, shorter month in February, and after stripping the Christmas lights, the bright red and pink of Valentine’s Day is heartening.
This also marks the end of President Trump’s first week in office. I was mildly amused when I heard reported that he had used the Executive Order 14 times in this first week. Perhaps you remember the fuss about the times President Obama used an executive order. I spent time discussing that with someone last year who thought Obama’s record was terrible and he should have to go through Congress. It might be the one thing the two Presidents would agree on. President Obama could not get Congress to work with him. They blocked him on everything he was trying to do. President Trump may realize it is the one way he can get his own way. If he has to take legislation through Congress he will find a much tougher path.
I think we were all stunned by his actions this week: (1) gag the Environmental Protection Agency from sharing scientific data (2) alienate Mexico our third largest trade partner and infuriate farmers across the country whose main trade is with Mexico (3) lay the burden on Americans to pay more for goods from Mexico because, of course, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. (Do ya’ think.) (4) stop immigration from seven countries in the Middle East. That is not going to stop terrorism. It will only make the situation worse. Those who want to do harm will always find a way. (5) preside over the dismantling of the State Department and many of its career diplomats, those who really know what is going on in the world (6) alienate Great Britain to the point they will now have to discuss President Trump’s visit in parliament -- if they will let him come -- because of the backlash in that country. (7) take us out of trade agreements that were meant to open doors between countries.
Refugees and how a country deals with those people in need are surefire indicators of the philosophical direction a country is headed. Previous to World War II we would not let Jews from Eastern European countries enter the U.S. because there was a strong strain of anti-Semitism here. Also as we were during World War I, there were many isolationists who wanted to stay out of Europe’s troubles. It was a humanitarian issue, but folks were too frightened. It is over 70 years since World War II. Have we still not learned that we cannot isolate ourselves from the world? Long ago a liberal Republican presidential candidate, Wendell Wilkie, talked about the need for one world. His book, One World (published in 1943), is a document of his world travels and meetings with many of the Allies' heads of state as well as ordinary citizens and soldiers in locales such as El Alamein, Russia, and Iran. The main idea of the book is that the world became one small inter-connected unit and Isolationism is no longer possible:
When you fly around the world in 49 days, you learn that the world has become small not only on the map, but also in the minds of men. All around the world, there are some ideas which millions and millions of men hold in common, almost as much as if they lived in the same town.
"There are no distant points in the world any longer." What concerns "myriad millions of human beings" abroad, concerns the Americans. "Our thinking in the future must be world-wide."
If our withdrawal from world affairs after the last war was a contributing factor to the present war and to the economic instability of the past 20 years—and it seems plain that it was—a withdrawal from the problems and responsibilities of the world after this war would be a sheer disaster. Even our relative geographic isolation no longer exists… At the end of the last war, not a single plane had flown across the Atlantic. Today that ocean is a mere ribbon, with airplanes making regular scheduled flights. The Pacific is only a slightly wider ribbon in the ocean of the air, and Europe and Asia are at our very doorstep.
Every nation must make room for others on the world stage and we are no different. The world is not a post World War II world any more. We are in the middle of a technological revolution Wendell Wilkie could not have imagined. It is a revolution that is changing the world and we will never be the same again. As human beings in a new world order we are called to join with others in that journey to the future.