“The World Is Flat”

May 22, 2005

History, Politics

I just finished watching Thomas Friedman on the Sunday morning talk-a-thon. He was pitching his new book (The World Is Flat). As usual, Mr. Friedman talked about broad issues in compelling fashion.

While I haven’t read the book yet, I was struck by a few things that he said. First, he explained what the “flat world” is all about. He starts with a question. What will historians in 2020 say was the most influential event this century? Would it be the 9/11 terror attacks and their aftermath? Or would it be the globalization of the world? In his treatise, Friedman asserts that the Internet and interconnectivity have “flattened” the world. Today, it makes no difference whether you live in New York, Silicon Valley or Bangalore. If you are bright and connected, you can live anywhere. Indeed, the world is much more of a flat playing field. Today, we no longer compete with fellow Americans. We must squarely compete with talented and gifted people from around the globe.

Second, he noted that America is facing four key deficits.

1. The energy deficit
2. The education deficit
3. The budget deficit
4. The “ambition” deficit

When I heard this, I readily understood and heartily agreed with the first three issues. But I wasn’t certain what Mr. Friedman meant with his fourth point. The moderator stepped in and asked what I was thinking. What is the “ambition” deficit? Mr. Friedman called it the “Olympic basketball deficit.” The U.S. team went to the Olympics believing that it was the most talented team in the world. And rather than work hard and strive for excellence, the team displayed an apparent attitude of entitlement. Well, as we all know, we were lucky to earn a bronze medal.

Whether intentional or not, this illustration struck a resonating chord with me. All around me, I see people that believe they are entitled to the grand things that they possess. They act as if these things are deserved rather than earned. And, truth be told, I must say that my own “thoughts and deeds” often demonstrate this attitude of entitlement. God forgive me when I have accepted your blessings and made them my entitlements. May I (and this nation) once again return to a place of thankfulness. And may I also remember that I must strive for greatness, not expect it to arrive at my doorstep.




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