Show them why they should follow our values
We put forward our clocks here in New Zealand last weekend, and I decided to cease making the changes on the ofﬁce computers from this point. For the last 15 years or so, the Jack Yan & Associates head ofﬁce has worked on US eastern time, and we have made the change to GMT. No more putting clocks forward or back.
Part of the move is personal: I would not mind knowing what time it is in Great Britain, so I can call Brigid, not that that took that much mind power. New Zealand tends to be 11, 12 or 13 hours different from the UK depending on the time of year, so it is usually a matter of changing a.m. to p.m. and vice versa.
Professionally, more of the Medinge meetings that I am called to do are on GMT, even if last time the Poms got it mixed up and met an hour earlier (looking at their clocks during British summer time)—missing me out in the process.
But it marks a change in the de-emphasis of the United States in our group. While it will always remain an important market, and the one that is the primary market for our font sales, we decided to internationalize more. More JY&A activities are taking part in Asia, for example, and these contractors and afﬁliates tell time based on GMT, too.
It got me thinking more, too, about American values, which I have often defended on this blog. While everyday people and their politicians are two very disparate groups—and the United States remains a ﬁne country if you ever have the pleasure of talking to decent, regular Americans daily—the negative image of the US as a whole does affect how all of us in the west can get our agenda through to others.
The ugly side rears its head often in the mainstream media, which thrives on negativity: Bob Woodward going on about how Iraq is the new Vietnam, skipping over casualty ﬁgures on both sides in both wars; the self-criticism, self-loathing and self-shaming that seem to be de rigueur in news delivery.
Certainly, there is a lot of badness. Corruption in governments and corporations. Abuse of host countries in which globalization has taken place. All of which leads many countries that the west is trying to convince to ask, ‘Why should we follow your values?’
The good side, unfortunately, doesn’t come up.
Dealing in the fashion industry has taught me that the US is among the worst when it comes to cordiality in that ﬁeld: it is dog eat dog, and ‘What favour can you do me?’ Some of the offenders in this business make The Sopranos look like Blue Peter. While I have real friends in that business in New York and Los Angeles, and in Miami, they are outnumbered by the dorks. In that profession, I have to ask, ‘Why should I follow your values?’
Until we show some improvement in living our values, that question is going to keep coming up, in the political sphere, and in the professional sphere. If we want to win the hearts and minds of people against those who may wish to ﬁght against our freedoms—a scenario that the President paints regularly—then we need to look at our immediate communities and stamp out anything that does not align with universally held ideas of what is right.
We also owe it to ourselves to reach out, as individuals, to countries which see us negatively, and I still hold a belief that the blogosphere is where this can happen. Comment on someone else’s blog in these countries and see what happens.
If I did not have daily dealings with genuine Americans Stateside, I would have ranted like some crazed anti-American pizza seller years ago. Well, maybe I wouldn’t. I have way too much faith in human nature to do that. But I am sure some would, and as an easterner living among westerners, I think these values are worth expressing and sharing. Let’s not let people fall through the cracks. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:41
Thank you Jack, for putting into words such thoughts for us to think about, particularly today. Oct 2,2006 is Mahatma Gandhi's 137th birth anniversary.
Niti, thank you for raising that—I had no idea it was the great man’s birthday.
I personally think the values in the U.S. have declined considerably from what they were. It is more anything goes now a days. There are those who have tried to separate our values/morals from our faith. If you do that, what basis do you have for your values/morals? If you argue because their RIGHT. Who are you to decide what is RIGHT? What is right for one person may not be for another.
It's important that you talk about this. George W. Bush and his administration are causing the world to hate us Americans more than ever, but I can assure you that each time he was elected about half of the people disagree with him. I can't think of one area of government that I'm happy with right now. This includes the economy, foreign affairs, education, trade, environment. So it's not fair to generalize about Americans collectively mixing faith and policy. The rest of us, (liberals, Democrats, Green party members, Libertarians and even moderate Republicans hate what's happening here but we have to tough it out to make a change in the future for the sake of our country and the planet. In the meantime, bear with us Americans that are on the side of the rest of the world.
Ron, I agree with you. The source of our values must come from somewhere. Even for atheists, though I imagine they would argue that while inspiration for their values may have come from ancient religions, a global, humanist system needs to emerge. It is not without merit, though as someone who is spiritual, I do not subscribe to that personally. I would rather live by example—which brings me to Atul’s comment.Post a Comment
Atul, strangely enough, despite having a history of voting leftward apart from my ﬁrst General Election at age 18, I have to admit that ﬁnd myself often in agreement with Republicans in the US than the arguments delivered by their opponents (highlighting just how crap some of the arguments are, given ridiculously easy targets in some cases). Maybe I don’t know enough about the process there. Certainly I have massive difculties with Labour here in New Zealand. This is making me sound like a conservative.
However, I have greater difﬁculties with the National opposition, given its overall incompetence from the Opposition benches. Which must make me sound like a liberal.
I consider myself Confucianist, which would probably equate most closely to libertarian, hence ﬁnding favour with arguments on both sides, and making it hard for me to generalize either.
But there are many aspects of the US administration that I am patently unhappy with—hence the post, which has a political bent. I ﬁnd the whole globalization process abhorrent when it abuses host countries. I am disgusted at the environmental abuse and dumping of waste by US companies. I don’t poke fun at Al Gore any more because there is not much left to sit on if you want to adopt a Luddite position regarding the environment. Thus, all this needs to change, in answering why western values should be aped by anyone.
Regardless of whom are the temporary occupants of the White House, whether Republican, Democrat or John McCain, what I write is something that needs to be addressed: living by example is better than compelling others to follow one system. And right now, the example being set Stateside, and in many other western countries, isn’t one that many people would ever want to follow.
The solutions are education and dialogue, and I do not mean of children alone, but all of us, so we can understand how politics and commerce impact on others’ lives far away. We refuse to do this because, I believe, we might not like the picture that we will uncover.
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