The definition of isolationism is as follows: A policy of remaining apart from the affairs or interest of other groups, especially the political affairs of other countries. The definition might also be extended to include the idea of separating oneself from the concerns of others within a country. In recent times we have seen this attitude or idea expressed by the President of the United States.
We might also take a look at the happenings in England. With the resignation of Theresa May, and the possibility of Boris Johnson taking her place, isolationism might become the order of the day in that part of the world. Just prior to his visit to England Donald Trump gave Johnson his support, saying that he would be 'very good' as the next UK Prime Minister. A note to the readers of this column - it is likely changes have already occurred. These words were sent to the editor 10 days prior to publishing.
We have noted Trump's pulling out of the Paris Accord, his threats of tariffs which disturb the economies of other countries, and his obvious attempts to keep asylum seekers from entering his country. The man with the elaborate comb-over has not been able to get a wall to separate the United States from all countries to the South...but it was not for lack of trying. His walking out of the G7 talks hosted by Canada, followed by his calling our leader “weak”...then pulling out of the original NAFTA. His actions signal his willingness to separate his country from the ally to the North and to the South.
The isolationist stance has encouraged the “us” versus “them” thinking which provides an environment for bigotry. We have seen the emergence of white supremacy. Hate crimes are on the increase. Countries throughout the world are not sure if they can count on the support of the United States. Even with the testimony of thousands of scientists telling us climate change is here, the leader of the U.S. and the of the conservatives in his country seem determined to ignore those warnings. There is a growing sense of uncertainty and chaos. Greed and self-interest is the priority...not the well-being of the citizenry. We are seeing the re-emergence of oil interests in this country; rather than a focus on the development of alternative energy.
It would seem that there are some who have not learned the lessons from the beginning of time. It is through cooperation that man survives. Those early humans learned that by banding together and working for the common interests even the largest and strongest predators could be driven back. Food could be gathered and secure shelters could be built. Clothing could be made and fires built to keep warm.
Unfortunately, we are now seeing the full force of the “us” and “them” behaviours. There are those who see themselves privileged – for whatever reason. Any who are different in skin tone, religion or live in another country are somehow “less than.” At this time in history it would seem that these individuals are becoming more vocal. There is probably no one more vocal than Donald J. Trump.
To my way of thinking it might be time for those of us who do not view other people as separate to speak out. As a group we need to speak out for the rights of all people. In other words...we must become as vocal as those who are focused only on self-interest. We all have the right to feel secure. We all have the right to be who we are...regardless of skin tone, regardless of our faith, or sexual identity. We have the right to clear air and clean water. Above all...we really need to truly understand our dependency on each other. We are a world community.
Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column runs weekly in the Amherst News.