THE VALUES AMERICANS LIVE BY
by L. Robert Kohls)
The following is one of 13 values outlined by the Washington International Center in 1984. It was meant to be a guide to help foreign visitors better understand Americans, and it has been valuable in helping me to be more aware of my own values while I live in a country that is so different.
"7. Competition and Free Enterprise
Americans believe that competition brings out the best in any individual. They assert that it challenges or forces each person to produce the very best that is humanly possible. Consequently, the foreign visitor will see competition being fostered in the American home and in the American classroom, even on the youngest age levels. Very young children, for instance, are encouraged to answer questions for which their classmates do not know the answers.
You may find the competitive value disagreeable, especially if you come from a society [that] promotes cooperation rather than competition. But many U.S. Peace Corps volunteers teaching in Third World countries found the lack of competitiveness in a classroom situation equally distressing. They soon learned that what they had thought to be one of the universal human characteristics represented only a peculiarly American (or Western) value.
Americans feel very strongly that a highly competitive economy will bring out the best in its people and ultimately, that the society which fosters competition will progress most rapidly. If you look for it, you will see evidence in all areas -even in fields as diverse as medicine, the arts, education, and sports -that free enterprise is the approach most often preferred in America."
In the same spirit of competition Phil and I have begun an informal battle of the blogs. First prize is merely the chance to avoid the shame of being second place. Our battle will be fought both tactically and strategically, with each side employing a large staff who will carry out such tasks as monitoring the opponent’s blog or analyzing results from the highly scientific surveys included on the task-bar.
Recently our people sent his people an envelope wishing him luck. The envelope was laced with a virus whose only side-effect is an extreme reluctance to post blogs. We will inform you of updates as we receive them.
The Ooley campaign needs your help, and accepts suggestions on techniques, tactics, or strategies 24-hours-a-day. If you have an idea for a story, please submit it asap via firstname.lastname@example.org or click the comments link below for anonymity (really – you can suggest anything!).