Get Over Ourselves, Get Back in the Saddle!

For a long time, I have felt strongly that every American should spend time living abroad (at least 6 months).  Why? To give each person the ability to think beyond their own existence, to truly appreciate just how different, how varied our world can be.  And, in the case of leaders, the ability to more readily appreciate competitive concerns, issues of cultural acceptance, as well as otherwise unseen risk.

As Americans, we have long seen ourselves as free, progressive, and dynamic.  Unfortunately I think we’re all too far along the path to emulating Europe.  Instead of a nation of Doers, with dynamic energy, routinely celebrating major accomplishments, we are stagnating.

Consider:

– Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecraft voyaged to the Moon.  Almost 40 years ago.

– Our space shuttles will all be retired this year; just more museum pieces.

– It might be another decade before we have a National means of putting men in space again.

– For the first time ever, there is fear upcoming generation(s) won’t exceed our their parents’ standard of living.

– The US no longer boasts the world’s tallest buildings.

– A new World Trade Center in New York, some of the world’s most prized real estate, has been in discussion for nearly a decade now.

Take a look at this picture…

This is a model of Shanghai as it’s planned to be, by 2020.  Keep in mind, Shanghai is already home to over 22,000,000 people.  That’s almost three times the size of New York City (8,000,000).  If you think the picture above is impressive, take a look at these.

My friend, Andrew J. Stein, recently returned from China after working on a project.  He emphasized how clean, fresh, and vibrant the cities are.  One very stark difference jumped out at me.  In Shanghai’s Pudong district, home of the Shanghai World Financial Center, they have finished the foundation for the next building in the cluster.

Andrew emphasized that, they’ve not selected the contractor for completing the building, yet they already are planning for the building’s completion inside 18 months!

There seems to be a massive difference.  In China, they are doing!  In the U.S., we seem to have degenerated to a nation of nay-sayers: not in my back yard, don’t block my view, where’s my entitlement, my hand out, me, me, ME! This is not what our founders envisioned.  They’d have never imagined the US becoming a nation of whiners.

Shanghai, is but one such Chinese city. In the year 2000, Beijing and Tianjin had 15 million each; and seven other cities had a population of more than 5 million each. More than 100 Chinese cities have a population of more than 1 million (source).

Want to talk about ambition:   China is planning to create the world’s biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42,000,000 (source).

Today, I wanted to take a big, big picture view of things.  I hope to impress upon my fellow countrymen, the need to get over ourselves and get back in the saddle!  Let’s start doing again, before someone shows us how it’s done.

(photo credits: Andrew J. Stein, Google Earth)

2 Responses to “Get Over Ourselves, Get Back in the Saddle!”

  • Shaden Shawky April 21, 2011 at 6:27 am

    I totally agree with you. We’ve become a nation of “nay sayers”. But change often comes from the top. Our leaders have become so complacent and have adopted the wrong priorities. How much do we spend on defense vs. education? Almost 8 times more. How much do we spend on R&D in comparison to India or Japan? Almost nothing. Have you noticed that the Cell phone you buy overseas would work (roam) in any place in the world but your cell phone in the States hardly works beyond the place from which it was bought? Why is that? Have you noticed that we’re 37th in the world in terms of quality health care yet we are the highest paying nation for health care cost? Why is that?

    When you mix corporate interests with politics you end up with a corrupt system in which the politicians don’t care about their constituents but only those who would contribute to their election campaigns. Decisions are made based on what’s best for the most powerful company(s), the ones that spends millions of dollars on lobbying those politicians. The hell with the ordinary citizen. This is why America is failing.

  • Tanya Pedersen April 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Jens Like previous comments I to agree with your thoughts. When times were good , jobs a plenty no one cared about the fact ,what we purchase came from China . Now our jobs are gone to China, Japan , Mexico & Canada today no jobs & now the American worker is just starting to see what has happened. Jobs can come back on the other hand life styles may need some changes made for a while . China is making modern cities yes but doing so with no regard to the people . As to Health Care our paychecks (when you have one) have a stub showing deductions for Entitlements no one mentiones that fact. Well it is time to roll up our collective sleves and read articles such as your Jens, make our children read , work, such as school,learn to makes goals, respect parents , adults & of course lisen to Grandparents. Stand together Help each other , Church
    Bless us all Bless the U.S.

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