A decade after 9/11, only 16% of Americans believe terrorism is the most important issue in the world, according to a new survey on Americans’ interest in international concerns and related behaviors.
Economic weakness and unemployment were identified as the chief concern for most Americans, with twice as many respondents citing it as the most critical issue compared to terrorism. World poverty and hunger trailed a distant third, although economic and social inequality ranked higher for adults aged 18-24.
“We learned that people are not as afraid of terrorism as we might think they are … they don’t let it determine how they view the world,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications and author of the blog, Faith, Media and Culture. “It speaks of tremendous hope that after 9/11, people did not retreat from the world in fear. Today’s fears are more about financial stability.”
The 2011 Global Involvement Survey offers insights into Americans’ behavior and attitudes related to global citizenship, pride in America, interest in world news, and views on U.S. involvement in international issues.
One survey finding revealed that less than half of Americans follow world news daily, and only one in five follow it closely. About half of all adults viewed international and domestic issues of equal importance, while 43 percent thought domestic issues most important and only 6 percent found international issues most important. Approximately 60 percent of respondents agree that the world is more interconnected today.
“We live in an interconnected world in which circumstances affecting people far away can have a direct impact on us. Like it or not, we live in a globally connected world,” said Hollon. “You’re a global citizen every time you walk through the supermarket or every time you stop and buy a tank of gasoline.”
Other survey findings include:
- 94% of respondents are either proud or very proud to be an American, with adults 18 to 34 least likely to respond affirmatively.
- Only one-third of people had prayed for a group or an issue, but 86 percent had donated money and 46 percent had volunteered time.
- Most adults expect the U.S. government to take an active role in addressing international issues related to human suffering, but reactions were mixed regarding the U.S. role in educational development, defense, protecting civilian populations, and currency stability.
- Only 29 percent of respondents strongly agreed that U.S. behavior in world affairs reflects American values.
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