We’re the bad guys
We drop bundles of money on our military. According to Business Insider, America spent $581 billion in 2014. That’s more than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, India and South Korea combined.
Our defense budget makes up 18% of our country’s total budget (compared to the 2% that goes towards education). We have at least 700 military bases around the world, and according to the New York Times, even with our government’s plan to reduce our Army by 40,000 troops we will still have the world’s most formidable defense.
It’s no wonder we’re referred to as the most powerful nation on Earth or why debates fire on whether we should act as the world’s police. As a country, we have power.
We have protection. We have privilege.
But, that’s not to say we haven’t suffered. As 9/11 draws near, we remember the horrific day when 3,000 American civilians died. Many of our hearts still hurt for those lost.
However, what we think less often about is that over the span of America’s invasion of Iraq, nearly 500,000 Iraqi civilians died. During the Korean War, 1 million South Korean civilians died. During the Vietnam war, 2 million Vietnamese civilians died.
They died because of America’s military might invading their soil. If this were Jesus’s day, these Iraqis, Koreans and Vietnamese would be the Israelites. Americans would be the Romans.
Now, let me make an obvious but seemingly unrelated observation: the Bible wasn’t written by Americans. It also wasn’t written by the biblical equivalents of America.
The Bible was written by the Israelites, a people who were invaded, enslaved and killed by nations like the Egyptians, Persians, and Assyrians. But when I read the Exodus story, I don’t try to identify with the Egyptians, I try to identify with the slaves. I identify with the oppressed, not the privileged.
You probably do too because that’s who we were taught to identify with. And from many perspectives, that’s a meaningful way to read Scripture.
But as an American, the privilege I have puts me in the place of the oppressor, not the oppressed.
My home country hasn’t been invaded. It’s done the invading. My forefathers weren’t enslaved. They did the enslaving.
May God save the world from us.
Sarah is a senior studying english.