An alien visitor visiting planet earth would never confuse Japanese society with the American one. The differences are more than skin-deep, though that is one notable observation. A second, more important observation, is exemplified by the great differences in peacefulness. Americans kill each other as the polar opposite of the Japanese who go to great lengths to mold and preserve their peaceful society anchored via group traditions of family, schools, and the state. Japanese revere Japanese, individually and, and equally, as society. In contrast, Americans too often tend to put the individual ahead of society, each is in it for him/herslf. Americans also tend to allow special interests to control not only their morals but their pleasures such as hunting animals and banking systems as well. These tendencies lead to very different interpretations of national interests. The Japanese view is as groupish as the American one is individualistic, but of course there is also great societal overlap - in type of governance for example.
Just as surely, as in all trade-offs, each has its downside. Americans, in spite of their violence, are more creative than their Japanese counterparts. That may be changing; Japan is now winning Nobel prizes while American schools continue to lag the world leaders in performance. Japanese quality in their consumer products is now often the world standard.
What the Japanese, and other Asian countries, have more of, is an ability to tune the balance between internal and external loci of control. Of course societal change can only come slowly for a generation is needed to prove its value or lack thereof. And at most, only a very few variables can be tried with each generation. One solution to that might be parallel trials among various localities.
Such a solution, however, would require scientific insights and trials foreign to politicians and the public alike. Manipulating voters, voting machines, and voting districts is not the road to peace. But that is not to say various movements within a larger society could not experiment socially in friendly competition. In theory, that is. Movements can be, and too often are, just as extreme and disruptive of society as governance or religion can be when co-opted by extremists. Multiple illustrations are evident in the last century.
|Both internal and external loci of control are necessary to guard against Extremism, for it is the ultimate enemy of all humankind.|
Posted by RoadToPeace on Friday, July 28, 2006.