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If we could see ourselves the way the world sees us

Many of us have heard those famous poetry lines from Robert Burns, Scottish Poet Laureate. It was the last four lines of his poem, “To a Louse,” written in 1785:

O Wad some Power the giftie gie us to see

ourselves as ithers see us

It wad frae monie a blunder free us

and foolish notion.

I heard a similar caution when teaching school six years on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation Headquarter in Poplar, Mont., with fewer words. The Indian equivalent was that it would help his neighbors understanding if they had to walk a mile in my moccasins.

It isn’t easy to do. Some people can’t do it at all. They can only view a problem from their personal perspective. Our personal view, naturally, has to be most important to us, but for those who can see it from another perspective, it makes diplomacy increasingly possible.

Wouldn’t it be good for us if the United States could see “ourselves” as others see us? I believe that would be a wonderful thing for saving lives and money. With our alarmingly high debt, wouldn’t reducing our military be greatly appreciated?

We periodically have come to fear another nation or nations; this causes us to arm ourselves enormously thus committing ourselves militarily when diplomacy would have been wiser. Several in Congress personnel are now saying more sanctions are the answer with Iran.

Here is the dilemma. Fear is a frightful factor. We, and other countries, fear that another nation or nations might cause great harm. We call for increasing an astronomical defense budget. Do you think other nations with considerably less wherewithal think that is all we have in mind? We are in middle East now claiming that our purpose is spreading democracy and helping smaller nations who have revolutions to handle. Obtaining oil and other resources are not our main objective. We say that with straight faces.

Would we think it was in another nation’s self-defense if they were setting up bases near the southern Canadian border and or had troops, etc. on or near the northern Mexican border. “Suspicion is natural enough I guess when some gets more and some get less, for them ones on the slimmest side to claim it ain’t a fair divide.” Those lines come from an American poet, but fit the occasion.

How do you see it? Military manufacturing is a great economy factor as it provides work for many people when unemployment is too high. FDR handled this successfully after our major depression with infrastructure projects of many kinds such as CCC, WPA, etc. Eisenhower did it after another depression building our vastly improved inter-continental highways. Our nation’s infrastructure now is deplorable in too many areas and severely needs attention.

Why are we not investing (improved infrastructure) in our great nation rather than spending on wasteful fear. Oh would some power the gift for us to see that in our investing in our own great country with authentic needs rather than a force to destroy, money down the drain plus many other negatives.

Or if we can’t do it all, why not do as much as we can in improving our infrastructure while still keeping a reasonably sized defense budget?

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@