I’ve been reflecting for a while on the shift of power from America to China, as those who read my musings will know. This is typified by the latest Netflix offering American Factory, backed by the Obamas. It shows the cultural clash between East and West and the rise of China as the new superpower.
I then received another nudge in my thinking when I saw this headline Half of Americans are Effectively Poor and it made me think. A lot.
I grew up in a small village in the middle of England. I went to school and my parents wanted me to achieve. I did. I went to college and university, with their backing, and became one of the successful baby boomer generation to get a good job. Admittedly in Wakefield, Yorkshire, but it was a good job with a computer company called ICL. It was the equivalent of IBM, but British, and proud of it.
A decade later ICL was acquired by Fujitsu of Japan, and I was working for an American giant called Wang. Wang computers were predicted to be bigger than IBM in 1980. In 1990, they filed for Chapter 11 and were bankrupt.
Through the years, I worked for many large American computer companies. Computing is where it’s at and America is the place to be. Yep. Then the world globalised. The rise of China began in the 1990s and supercharged in the 2000s such that, in the 2010s, the Chinese economy influences the whole world. That is why Chinese firms are so powerful and why Trump has created a US-China trade war. Americans don’t like it. They don’t like it because America is no longer the superpower they once were. The USA is no longer the man.
The reason I write this is that I grew up being a patriot. I love my country. I love my home. But where is my home? Wherever I lay my hat?
I’ve moved to Poland, I live in hotels, I am based in airport lounges, I travel the world. I’m no longer wedded to a place, a home, a domicile. The world is my home. I can be proud of Poland, where I live now, or I can be wedded to a base in Malaysia, a place I visit often. I have similar global friends who think the same. They came from Australia, lived in Dubai, moved to Hong Kong, bought a flat in New York and now live in Bangkok. You know who you are.
The beauty of this is that the world has no borders. We can move freely around the world. We can choose to be where we want to be. It is a world that has moved from the forced movement of people to the free movement of people. In the 1800s, people were mass transported under fear of death from Asia and Africa to America and Europe. In the 1900s, people were mass transported to the promise of death from the countries of Europe to the gas tanks of Germany. In the 2000s, people can choose to be transported from the war and terror of their dictatorships to the hope and opportunity of democracies.
We live as free citizens, not as forced slaves. More importantly, if we live in slavery, many of us – but not all – can choose to move.
Apologies for writing this on my blog about banking and technology, but I guess I’m moving on from writing on that strict regime of focus to reflect more on life and change. In my life, there has been so much change. My village is still there and has not changed so much, and yet I look back after all these years and don’t recognise it. My village is a small piece in the jigsaw of life that is now passed.
Villages and towns have been replaced by cities and planes. The world is connected and integrated and the more we have xenophobes, who try to break that apart, the more we have humans who disagree.
7.7 billion of us.
We are all human. We are all born equal. Hate and inequality is created in us by societies, but we should see each other as free and equal. Migrants from wars are not sub-human, as some people think. They are our brothers and sisters, and equal and free. Or they should be.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom