Steve Inskeep had a fascinating interview with a Pakistani intellectual this morning which highlighted, I think, the problem we face today. That is, our tendency, as Americans, to think that the whole world revolves around us.
This point was made rather subtly when Inskeep asked why the killing of bin Laden didn’t seem to be making the Pakistanis happy. The response, ‘how has it changed my life?’
Indeed. We seem to think that what’s good and exciting for us is good and exciting for everyone.
Question: I want to make sure that Americans understand this. Why would this be a moment for depression? Because the last big event was that bin Laden was killed — the good guys won. Why wouldn’t that be a moment for exhilaration or opportunity?
Answer: For you, in the U.S., it was a big event. For us, where does it change things for us for the better? He was somebody the U.S. was looking for, and they got him. So what has happened to us? Where were we in all this? We’ve had the same amount of bombings — in fact, more. There have been retaliatory bombings, or not retaliatory, because they have been going on. So what difference has it made to my life? My life is as uncertain as it was before. In my life, I see violence every day. Today, for example — I’m just coming from the court — two people were murdered inside the court. Inside the courtroom. For us, life is tough here. Very tough. If bin Laden is dead, do you think I’m not threatened?
Why are we Americans so parochial? Maybe more of us need to travel outside our own borders- both physically and intellectually.