have either given up or are loosening the grip on their territorial colonies the urge to colonize, to walk into another person’s world with instructions for right living and social order and then use means to establish such an order appears to have continued unabated. This time the forum is culture.
My own country is an example. Along with military presence perhaps the greatest single export of the United States is in the world of ideas and culture. Gone are the days, of course, where prim American missionaries would go around the world telling people in hot climates to dress like they do in Boston or they won’t actually be Christians. Now the new American missionary produces television shows, commercial products, multinational companies, and whatever culture that comes in the package with them.
Increasingly and sadly that culture is often rotten, a sick mix of violence, promiscuity, and consumption for its own sake. We have found a way to export our consumer goods and the emptiness of soul that comes in the same box. We have a veneer of charity but the people receiving it know that its the overflow of our excess. We have become evangelists every bit and more enthusiastic than those who brought Bibles for an anti- gospel, if you will, that is less enlightening, a message of power, greed, promiscuity, and a life given over to acquisition.
And when the people we send these things to are hesitant to embrace them our vaunted tolerance and diversity turns into a snarl. Witness the cultural belittling of Russia simply because they don’t wish to have teachers in their grade schools showing children how to put condoms on bananas and exploring anal sex in their early teens. The barbarians must embrace the new religion or be taught a lesson. Witness how our aid is distributed to the poor and needy throughout the world on condition that they embrace the instructions that come with it or risk having that aid be removed. Witness, as well, that when people refuse to embrace this way of life we propose we strive to shut down their economies or send our drones to enforce our will through death.
Who is the culture killing, soul deadening colonial missionary of this day? It is certainly not the man or woman with a heart for God and a desire to build a health clinic in a place of poverty. I would suggest, instead, that the true colonialists of our time often wear business suits and come with technological baubles in hand that catch the eye but have strings, even chains, attached. They are emissaries of a “modern” world whose technological benefits are quickly being overcome by its moral and spiritual emptiness. What good is a television that spews social filth or an industrial base that produces temporary junk made by disposable people?
Thus the resistance. People around the world have television and the internet. They see not just the trappings of who we are but the reality that often underscores it as well. They see the tragedy behind the glittering lights. They understand the emptiness behind the manicured smiles. And they want very little of it. Pure water, constant electricity, advanced medicine, absolutely. Mindless consumption, moral drift, women who twerk and men who enjoy watching them, not so much.
And its in our best interest to let them be exactly who they want to be. You see, some day when our emptiness makes its full run, when the measure of our pride and sin is full, and when the mirage of the world we’ve created melts back into the desert of reality we’ll need those people who were wise enough not to buy everything we were selling. If God is merciful to our cries they will come to us and teach us how to be human again.