Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The World is Flat

This was one of those pseudo-business books that normally I stay away from, but this one had an intriguing premise so I checked it out. It brought out a variety of feelings: one, I am far from most of what is happening in the world (thank goodness); two, the world is changing faster than I realized; three, our politicians are playing "bread and circuses" without really addressing what is happening in our world today (nothing new); and fourth, hope. I feel like there really are some things I can do to make life better, especially for my children in the future.
The things I can do include writing to my elected officials about things I think are important, but aren't on the news. For example, where is the SEC in the mess right now? They are the people who should have been regulating things before it got so bad. I can teach my children how to navigate in our new world, and how to keep the things that are truly important and don't change. I can also encourage my children to get the skills necessary in the world they will work in. An English degree is a fine way to learn more and all, but math will get you a job.
I see, especially on the news, a lot of despair as people are confronted with change that they don't like. I'm sure horse carriages and oil lamp dealers at the beginning of the last century felt the same way. We can't stop the changes coming, we must learn to adapt and help those who are suffering adapt as well.
There were a number of points I wanted to think about more, so I will list them here, so I can take the book back to the library.

1. Social change is highly destabilizing. The old boundaries are changing and we do not yet know what will replace them. But we do know that we are still human beings and we need boundaries--agreed upon norms of behaviour and rules of commerce
2. Colin Powell, while Secretary of State, said he was connected to all the other foreign ministers, he had everyone's cell number.
3. Our children will interact with each other, with the wider world and the Web without many filters. Therefore, teaching them how to navigate that virtual world and how to sift through it and separate the noise, the filth, and the lies from the facts, the wisdom and the real sources of knowledge becomes more important than ever.
4.When we got hit with 9/11, it was a once in a generation opportunity to summon the nation to sacrifice...But our president did not summon us to sacrifice. He summoned us to go shopping.
5. Almost all of the students who make it to Caltech come from public schools, not from private schools that sometimes nurture a sense that just because you are there, you are special and entitled. Nearly 90% of the kids who go to MIT come from two-parent homes, where both parents can help guide a child down the straight and narrow.
6. Companies are more transparent and customers more powerful.
7, Internet activism is so easy, so cheap, so readily available...If it's not happening, it's because you're not doing it.
8. Jetblue vs al queda. The same type of world that enabled an active LDS man to make Jetblue, an independent airline that uses stay-at-home moms to do its reservation and customer service and is dedicated to making life better for its employees and the world also generated Osama Bin Laden and all he stands for. In the book Friedman talked about individuals having more power than ever in a leveled world, and individual ideologies governing what happens. Being LDS I think more than ever of the power of the word of God to change people and the world. You can't make people behave better if they don't want to. Motivation to change and live for the better come from inside. No government program can give people the upward mobility that the missionaries provide.

The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. 3rd ed. Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 2007

1 comment:

jendoop said...

You have great thoughts on all these issues. You should write an article for a magazine, you know in all your spare time.