I just finished participating in a unique interview. After the usual questions, the interviewer asked: “So, is it true that your writing has taken you all around the world?”
It’s true. My passport, stamped full in every corner and cranny–including the section I had to add because the other pages were full–will attest to that.
“Do you remember your first trip?”
Remember it? I’ll never forget! February 2002, it was. I went to India, then to China. Just months after the horror of September 11 and the demolished Twin Towers. (Well, I had been to England and Scotland before, but that was an entirely different type of trip. It was pure vacation.)
In China, a woman journalist said to me: “The symbol of China is a square with a line down the middle. That’s because China is supposed to be the center of the world. It isn’t now, but it will be.”
I didn’t immediately respond. That was lot to take in.
“America is a new country with no history to guide you,” she said. ” You think that because you are on top now, you will always be on top. We are an old country. We’ve seen many kingdoms rise and fall. We know to be patient and wait, because the balance will come back again to where it should be.”
“So, what have you been able to accomplish through your travels?”
Wow, what a question! Well, I have written a number of books. Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness and Courage in the Face of Persecution, for instance, came out of that first trip. Surely that was an accomplishment. And I have made great friends with whom I stay in touch.
But what did I accomplish? Well, I certainly got hit with a huge dose of reality. And I discovered how little I knew and understood about the world. And I gained a heart for the global family of God.
Also, I watch the news through different eyes. Because of that first trip, for instance, I’ve been thinking a lot about President Obama’s upcoming nuclear security summit with China’s President Hu Jintao. I keep remembering that box with the line down the middle and the balance of power as laid out by that Chinese journalist.
What does balance of power really mean? I suppose it depends on who asks and who gives the answer. There’s past and there’s further past. There’s ancient and there’s more recent. There’s the Eastern way and the Western way. In our rapidly changing world, can the United States of America help to thread a delicate passage between all these?
I need to pray for our president. I mean really pray. It’s more than just a lesson I learned. It’s what the Bible admonishes me to do.
“Power can be seen as power with rather than power over, and it can be used for competence and co-operation rather than dominance and control.”
Anne L. Barstow