AS THE WORLD has grown smaller, more volatile and unstable, how the United States is perceived by the rest of the world has taken on new importance.

With about 330 million people, the United States represents a small percentage of the world’s 7.5 billion inhabitants. While we represent the world’s economic and military power, we are perceived as an arrogant bully.

More than half the world’s population does not understand or appreciate our culture and we don’t understand theirs. Billions of people live in poverty and they struggle just to survive. Starvation, violence and death are daily challenges. That’s a source for resentment.

About 3 billion people in the world live comfortably. They are educated and a part of the new global economy. Their lives are improving. They are staking a claim for their share of the limited resources.

Putting our way of life in danger are brutal, barbaric extremists intent on terrorizing freedom-loving people who refuse to join them in killing Americans. We may think they no longer exist, but some believe new dangers to America are forming as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know China is in the process of building a massive military complex including a powerful navy. China has plans to become the world’s economic power. Many Americans are asking themselves “Why do so many people around the world hate us? If that is true, why are millions of refugees attempting to come here?”

Many Americans don’t want to answer those questions. We’re the good guys, right? The pandemic has hit us just as hard as other places. After all, we police the world. We feed the starving. We rid the world of vicious dictators. And we’re always there to negotiate disputes and provide disaster relief.

We’re able to do that because we have economic and political power, military muscle and a willingness (obligation) to be the world’s police. They should thank us and respect us, right? We’ve spent our national treasure to help our allies.

Our position carries awesome responsibility. While we demand respect, our actions also create resentment and hatred. In some conflicts, our policies have been meddlesome, heavy-handed and downright unsavory. It’s often futile getting involved in civil wars.

Our policies have often conflicted with cultures. Not all countries have appreciated our meddling and preaching. They don’t mind getting our food, medical supplies, military arms, foreign and humanitarian aid, but they don’t want our continued involvement.

As we’ve helped countries become part of the global economy, they have developed an appetite for a better life. Things Americans have taken for granted are highly prized by this growing class of world consumers.

We can’t live without our vehicles. Most of them guzzle fuel, but it’s getting better. We also are committed to converting to electric vehicles. We consume more oil per capita than anyone. We have electricity on demand. How does that look to most of the world?

People around the world see Americans as the leading consumers of just about everything. We don’t just have it all, we want even more. That’s offensive to many cultures.

Making it worse, they see us as the biggest wasters of valuable resources and we don’t seem to care. In their cultures, that is a sin and it is unforgivable. Some of our freedoms offend their religions.

Americans don’t apologize for their blessings or waste of precious resources. Foreigners hate our arrogance and superior attitude. They say we’re the ones who don’t understand and “just don’t get it.” We can’t think we can settle their tribal wars that have been going on for hundreds of years.