On a recent trip to the South Pacific, I had the good fortune of a private conversation with a guide providing a tour of the WWII battle scenes on the island of Guam. Having survived a brutal occupation by the Japanese, Guam was, and remains a United States territory. The guide was from an indigenous island family, the Chamorro people. When he was a young man, his parents work provided them an opportunity to travel. Upon returning from their world travels, they told their children that being part of the United States was “A Better Place to Be”.
Industrial strength, military force and American values saved the world from fascism and tyranny in WWII, generously paving the way for progress for so many people around the world. A stronger America has, does, and hopefully will always make for a better world. It is alarming to see that strength dissipated, that force weakened and those values under attack.
United States participation in World War II lasted a little less than 4 years and freed the world from tyranny and fascism creating worldwide opportunities for unprecedented growth and prosperity. The War in Afghanistan lasted 21 years, spanned four presidential administrations and ended with a chaotic withdrawal with the people that we were there to help clamoring to flee their own country.
Industrial Strength. American industry provided almost two-thirds of all the Allied military equipment produced during WWII: 297,000 aircraft, 193,000 artillery pieces, 86,000 tanks and two million army trucks. In four years, American industrial production, already the world’s largest, doubled in size.
Today’s preoccupation with DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) by financial and governmental elites have weakened our industrial strength jeopardizing our leadership of the free world. No nation in the history of mankind has made more progress in the areas of DEI and ESG, these are American values. But handicapping American industrial strength and ingenuity will only lessen our ability to lead in these areas
Military Force. In his final presidential address, President Eisenhower, a five-star General who served as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WWII, warned of the “unwarranted influence of the military industrial complex.” The military-industrial complex has prospered over these past 20 years, but has our military strength? While our nation mobilized 16 million military personnel, 6 million volunteers and 10 million draftees, to field the fighting force that courageously fought and won battles in Europe and Asia, today’s military can’t even meet its enlistment goals for a force a fraction of that size. Part of that reason is the physical fitness of today’s youth. How wise is it to eliminate physical fitness from our schools to reduce costs while now investing in gender studies? The Ancient Greeks stressed the inseparability of training both the body and the mind. That essential truth has not changed, but our education system has.
American values. Despite the divisive political rhetoric designed to curry political favor, I believe that a vast majority of Americans do share a common set of values. Those values are reasonably well stated in a State Department publication titled, So You’re an American? A Guide to Answering Difficult Questions Abroad
“Americans value independence and self-determination, placing importance on the role of the individual in shaping his or her own identity and destiny through one’s choices, abilities, and efforts. Independence fosters one’s ability to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, to be able to do what is necessary to create a fulfilling life for oneself and one’s family.”
“The belief that all humans are created equal and are equal in value, without regard to their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation, has influenced national political movements and local community action groups. “Treat others as you would like to be treated” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” are proverbs that encourage people to deal with others in a fair and kind manner.”
Individualism, or individual will, means each person is free to do what they want and need, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. Competition is inherent in individualism as people strive to be recognized and rewarded.”
“The United States enjoys a democratic form of government where citizens elect and change their political leaders, whom they expect will represent them and answer to their will. At the basic level, popular opinion decrees that a democratic nation must have free and fair elections, a system of checks and balances, rule by the majority, and protection of minorities.”
“Nationalism and patriotism are closely linked concepts and imply devotion to one’s country, its values, and assertion of political interests. A study of polls from 2014 and 2015* found that 65% of Americans consider themselves patriotic and 83% believe the United States is the best country to live in.”
“Inherent within the American Dream is an affirmation of meritocracy, which allows for upward socioeconomic mobility based on one’s efforts, accomplishments, and talents, and not through seniority, inherited names, titles or property, or unethical means such as bribery. Americans closely identify themselves with the jobs they have, and it’s common to ask someone they have just met, “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?
“The geographically vast and resource rich country, with an abundant, diverse, and industrious population, was and still is fertile ground for new possibilities. “The Land of Opportunity” is a powerful pull for millions of immigrants to come and make their mark. The habits of a strong work ethic, punctuality, efficiency, and practicality also contribute to personal and professional success.”
“In communication and actions, most Americans believe that a straightforward and direct approach is the best way to ensure that a message is sent and received correctly. American professionals appreciate honesty and authenticity as a means to productivity and efficiency. Meaning is carried mostly by the words and much less so by contextual clues such as relative hierarchical position of the speaker and listener and where the communication takes place. A direct communicator doesn’t intend to be rude, but rather desires clarity and speed. Conversely, Americans may consider indirect or subtler forms of communication to be incomplete, dishonest, or insincere.
Several proverbs illustrate how Americans value direct communication: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say;” “Tell it like it is;” and “Honesty is the best policy.” Roots of this communication style may spring from a task orientation, where the primary purpose of communication is to identify the goal and all the attending elements needed to attain that goal. Relationships are built in the process. Cultures with a relationship orientation prefer to first establish trust with their counterparts, and then through that solid relationship carry out their tasks.”
“Innovation can be defined as a process to generate new ideas, processes, and products that add value, such as better quality or efficiency, to people or organizations. Americans’ positive association with change and progress exemplifies a “future orientation,” looking ahead for better things to come. While they show a healthy regard for tradition, Americans are even more attracted to the “new and improved” label being affixed to their bodies (physical fitness), laundry detergents (“removes stubborn stains”), cars (“more fuel efficient”), and computer software (Update 14.10.5). Americans confer respect on the scientists and engineers who create sophisticated innovations as well as on the average person who finds a more efficient way to accomplish everyday tasks.”
It is these American values that formed the strong foundation that enabled industrial strength and military force that secured our leadership of the free world. This seems like a pretty good place to start, but since we did actually start here, how about we start getting back to the values and be yet ,,,,An Even Better Place to Be!