Monday, November 15, 2010

Number one is the result, not the mission

This week's World News Tonight special is called "Inside China."

I watched an interview with Chinese billionaire Jack Ma this evening, and I found it endlessly interesting. Ma was asked if he thought the United States would still be the dominating force in global trade in 2020, and he answered yes. When he was asked the same question about the year 2050, Ma waited a moment before responding that he didn't know.

Ma then explained what I believe to be a true and very interesting assertion. He said that the dream that is pushing so many Chinese is the American one, and that the American dream is one which Americans no longer aspire to. These are not new ideas, both that the U.S. is a very young world power and that something has happened that has halted American ingenuity, but I really liked how Ma said it.

This billionaire, who was a schoolteacher before building the company, said that the United States' being number 1 isn't the goal, but the result of having and achieving the goal. The mission is what leads to the result, and for the United States, that mission, what was once the American dream, is no longer clear. The goal to be the best, the leader, the dominant force is only a result of the mission.

Ma then asked, very tactfully and earnestly, I believe, "what is the United States' mission?" I think he has a point.

What is our mission, as a nation?

Perhaps this is all jibberish, but I found it fascinating. You can watch the interview and read the transcript here, and here is the landing page for World News Tonight in China.

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