The Body Humanity
Your body is made up of parts (organs), and those parts are made up of more parts (cells), and those parts are made up of more parts (atoms), etc. This, I think, is understood fairly well by people, but I think we too often forget to look in the other direction. When Christians talk about the body of Christ I always try to keep in mind that our bodies are parts of a larger body, humanity. That larger body that we are part of behaves in some ways similar to the body we inhabit, but we do not think of the two similarly most of the time. Interconnectedness is an important thing for the health and well-being of a person, and it is important for humanity as a whole.
I am going to continue speaking of this concept in terms of Christianity, but many religions have beliefs related to the body of humanity as a whole. What one part of your body does has an effect on other parts of your body. If you drink too much alcohol, your brain might be having a good time socializing and feeling a little less pent up than normal, but your liver and heart are going to work a little overtime to clean out all of the junk you have introduced to the system. There are always things wrong with a given body be it unhealthy things in the system (right now too many Girl Scout cookies for me), injuries (scrape on my elbow), or diseases of many varieties (think I’m good here at the moment). Your body tries to fix all of the issues and then more crop up, but there are actions you can take to minimize the frequency and severity of ailments. You can eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
All of this leads to my discomfort with a policy named “America First”. We as Americans, are a group within the larger body. You can think of America as an organ of some sort in the body of humanity. Organs cannot, or should not, close themselves off from the rest of the body. If the kidneys decided they were most important and started promoting kidney interests over the heart and brain it would not be a good thing. Also, one part of the body taking more resources for itself will negatively impact other parts that might need those same resources. America winning so much we get tired of it would be a terrible thing if it is causing pain elsewhere. This is not an attack on our new president only, but on whatever actions we take as a country be they presidential action, congressional, judicial, legal from activists, protests of regular people, etc. They may hurt or change another part of the body and we should think about how before action is taken. If you think of America as the right bicep of the total human body, America first is like going to the gym every day and only doing bicep curls with your right arm. That muscle will get stronger, but over time it will not be balanced and good.
America is a global leader in many respects, and has been for a long time. Our currency is the main reserve currency for the rest of the world, for instance. If we want to remain a leader, if we want to be a good leader, we as Christians should push our country to lead as Jesus taught us. Servant leadership is about putting others ahead of self, and about loving our neighbor, and about focusing on the log in our own eye rather than the splinter in another’s. America first is therefore antithetical to Christian ideals. There is real pain in America, and it should not be ignored, but it should also not be treated as more important than pain elsewhere in our body humanity. America first, at least the way I hear it stated, implies that it comes at a cost to others. Building a wall and telling our neighbor to pay for it is not showing love for that neighbor. Saying extremist Muslims are the biggest threat, the worst. We should kick them out and fight them is focusing on their wrong rather than our own. That is not to say we should let those who want to harm America do as they please, sometimes a “tumor” needs to be excised, but being aware of how we motivate or mitigate hostility through our own actions is important alongside working toward security. Violence should not be used until we have no alternative, and even then we should recognize any of our own fault in the matter.
This is only a beginning, a first step. Christians want to be a light unto the world. To do that we must take our place in the body and strengthen the other pieces not fold in and focus on ourselves. We need to tell our elected officials that we want a healthy body, and I don’t think anyone feels that even the American portion of humanity is healthy right now.