There’s no perspective like outside-in.
No one understands this quite as much as Thomas Friedman, author and New York Times international columnist. Like an old fashioned, beat reporter with wings, Friedman goes to the story wherever it is, anywhere in the world.
But often that far away story lands him right back home.
When Friedman arrives at his destination, it seems he’s always getting an earful about the place he’s left: the good old U.S. of A. He listens, he learns and he reports. Friedman teaches us what his far flung global neighbors are struggling with in their homelands, and what expectations they have of the country from which he travels.
Case in point: Friedman’s February 25th NY Times by-line was Seoul, South Korea. Surprisingly for some, his takeaway was that even amidst a plunging economy, and perhaps because of it, his Asian friends still place their deepest hopes in the U.S.A.
“It was always easy to complain about a world of too much American power as long as you didn’t have to live in a world of too little American power,” Friedman synthesizes.
“According to a senior Korean official speaking to Friedman: “No other country can substitute for the U.S. The U.S. Is still No. 1 in economy, No.1 in promoting human rights and No. 1 in idealism. Only the U.S. can lead the world. No other country can.”
A global world? Yes. With the U.S. humbled as just one of many countries contributing – but is their contribution equal? Apparently some leaders in Seoul hope that it is not.
So how did we learn all this? Someone took a trip and asked. Maybe travelling isn’t the archaic phrase for surfing the web after all.