The Contradiction: My Heart’s Foreign Policy
As a millenial studying international relations, I have been exposed to the different paradigms shaping foreign policy, including realism and liberal idealism.
For those who are not familiar with these perspectives, let me put this in simple terms:
Realism functions on the assumption that human behavior is essentially violent and greedy, focused on survival, and must be controlled by government to maintain order. Thus, anarchy, the lack of one centralized world government, and the constant need for power and self-preservation, causes the international system to be plagued with fear and uncertaint, forcing nation-states to be self-interested. Basically, whichever state has the most power wins.
Liberal idealism, on the other hand, is based on the assumption that human nature is ultimately good and altruistic. The flaws of the international system are due to the inefficiences of institutions, not humans behavior itself. This paradigm emphasizes multilateral collaboration and human’s compassionate ethical concern for the welfare of others.
I am a feminist, an environmentalist, and, most importantly, an idealist.
I look at the world and see the perils of everyday life. I read the headlines: Unarmed citizens being shot by the people who are paid to protect them; Dozens of young girls stolen and sold to the highest bidder; Syrian families starving as they try evade the deadly crossfires of ISIS, the Assad-backed military and rebel forces; The perverse declaration of “them” vs. “us” in the U.S. presidential race.
In the midst of all the pain, destruciton and division, I believe peace is attainable. I still have faith that as a society, we can set aside our differences and work together to create a better future. I believe the glass is always half full and never half empty. I believe words are more powerful than the sword. I believe in second chances and that precedence, at times, can be irrelevant. I believe ensuring the needs and interests of society are more important than preserving the needs and interests of myself. I believe that we should take chances and trust one another to do what is right and uphold justice. I believe love will always conquer hate.
“I want my fairytale ending. I want to have the same faith in the individual who holds my heart that I do in humanity. I want to find my Noah and write our own love story.”
So, why then does my heart’s foreign policy fall short of idealism?
Pat Benatar was right. Love is a battlefield. With love, I am a hardline realist, a Cold War veteran filled with fear and paranoia. I expect the worst and am suspicious of even the most romantic of gestures.
I am not interested in trust, only in the protection of my heart. Diplomatic relations with me are impossible. I don’t believe in second chances. A guy is lucky to even get a first chance with me. I have had my heart broken. I have my scars from the battlefield. My wounds have just barely healed, so why would I want to try again?
Romantic love in its most pure state is anarchic. It’s a paradox. How am I supposed to embrace love if I am focused on survival?
Let me clarify, I do not resent witnessing romantic gestures such as marriage proposals or love notes. Nor, do I loathe gossiping about the highs and lows of romantic life with my girlfriends. I am a sucker for both of these. Love can be a beautiful phenomenon, one with which I have seen bring genuine happiness and meaning to someone’s life.
I love imagining my wedding with my girlfriends. If asked, I could automatically tell you what my idea of a perfect date is — a culinary class where my date does not end up having an allergic reaction to shellfish like Will Smith in Hitch. I live for the day I am Allie passionately kissing my Noah in a perfectly orchestrated Hollywood thunderstorm.
The common thread between these three ideas is just that. These are ideas, not reality. In real life, I will not be able to afford my dream wedding. In real life, my date ends up being Will. In real life, my Hollywood thunderstorm ends up being the Sahara desert.
“Romantic love in its most pure state is anarchic. It’s a paradox.”
For me, I am plagued with Hobbesian thought. Love can be unforgivingly cruel.
I wish there was a centralized government for love, eliminating the battlefield and bringing to justice those who corrupt love. Unfortunately, there is no such body. Us lovers are stuck fending for ourselves and trying to survive in this battlefield.
The question arises then: How can I be an idealist and a realist?
This in itself is a screaming contradition. How can I have faith in humanity and, at the same time, fear and uncertainty in romance? Should I try to change my outlook? What if I can’t?
As of now, I am contradicted about my realist perspective of love. This outlook protects me from the trap of naivety. Being a realist spares me from distractions romantic infatuation may cause. I have time to focus on the rest of my life’s endeavors, including my idealistic desire to improve the welfare of others and make peace more attainable.
Conversely, however, I want my fairytale ending. I want to have the same faith in the individual who holds my heart that I do in humanity. I want to find my Noah and write our own love story.
Right now though, my idealism is gone and I am left with alone with Hobbes. My heart’s foreign policy is one of self-preservation.
It’s not me, it’s the system. We can swipe right, chat awhile, and move on. That’s modern romance. We go on dates with one suitor while texting our Tuesday hookup buddy. We use the resources of someone’s love until they are all dried up and then we find the next fruitful victim. Evermore, once we break-up, we can still torture each other by posting about our new lovers on all social media networks, so everyone, especially our ex, can see we have upgraded.
For me, love is a cautionary tale in which I have already been burned. And, the scars, they do not fade easily, if ever. It’s a world where heartache bleaches any hope for idealism, leaving me to wonder if one day my perspective on the world of international relations will be the same.
I truly hope not. I truly believe not.
One day, I hope a foreigner knocks on my door and proves me wrong. I hope advocates for a change in my foreign policy. Until then, my heart’s foreign policy, my contradiction, perseveres.