Readers’ Blog

How the USA earned the 'leadership of the world' - The Four 'A's

Popularity 1Viewed 2119 times 2016-1-3 11:54 |Personal category:Quote Me|System category:Life| How, the, USA, earned, The

Much has been written about the negative manner in which the USA has achieved global dominance. It has not all been in a negative manner. There has to be and has been positive ways in which it has achieved the positive aspects of its current status over many decades, particularly since the beginning of the last century.

These have been so positive that they have overcome and overridden the negative aspects and still gives it the edge going into the future.

This is my personal take on this issue. I notice four major qualities, all coincidentally happening to start with the letter 'A'. These are as follows:


IMHO, within their own country, they have measured progress for a long time on a fairly sound basis that is described very well from the following quote from Franklin Roosevelt - “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Yes, I know many will point to the seeming declining indicators of these very measures of progress. But if they can stem the tide, they are well placed to be leaders for a long time.

Here is a bit more elaboration on each of the four characteristics I have listed.

Awareness: I have found that the average citizen of the USA is very aware of the most important issues to them, their ambitions and implications of seemingly minor issues to their most important goals as a society. It is true no matter what their individual situation or profession is. The level of awareness of how various actions, attitudes and incidents can benefit or harm them, among the population is high in the USA, across all levels of formal education and socio-economic status. Hence, most Americans naturally treat visitors and qualified immigrants to their country very well and display very little jealousy. There is a natural smartness to this attitude that I admire. As we travel eastwards from the USA, this kind of awareness seemingly declines, as I have observed. Drops off sharply as we enter Asia and then again picks up strongly as we move past the middle.

Adaptability: I find Americans of the USA the most willing to adapt to changing conditions. They will change their tactics, methods, learn easily the best from anyone. They will learn from even their adversaries or enemies without much ego. Individually, the best among them will be polite and humble in dealing with people from anywhere, learn the values of their best practices, adopt them and use them without any attitude of 'we are too good to learn from these people'. This is also a reason why they attract the brightest minds from all over the world, treat them well, let them flourish and thrive. Most make the USA their new home. Interestingly, I find that as one travels eastward from the USA, this adaptability declines across the Atlantic and then suddenly picks up a bit in Asia. It is often a mixed bag as we go further - some of the population is extremely good at adapting to change and some quite poor. This is also reflected in their economic achievements.

Assertiveness:  No one has to give an American his or her right. They assume and assert it naturally. If anything, someone has to point out to them the limits of their rights and where it ends or might infringe on others' rights. That aside, when something bothers them or something needs to be corrected, most Americans will usually politely and civilly put forth their case. If it not acknowledged they can be quite assertive, step up and speak up more energetically. They will try to ensure that they do not come-off treated unfairly or unjustly in a transaction or interaction.This is also a quality that does NOT drops off as we move eastward and cross the Atlantic. It drops off suddenly and sharply as we move into Asia and remains low and flat.

Beyond a certain point, the American is not concerned too much with saving face if things are really important to them. Sure, they are careful about saving 'one's own ass' as they put it. They don't care about saving anyone else's face or ass, as many Asians are wont to do even when it comes to something really important to themselves.

Action: Never mind all the theoretical knowledge, intellectual understanding or all the arguments, the American acts. There is a real grasp of the wisdom that unless it is acted upon, anything is really useless. If they are convinced about the benefit of something, or they want to take a chance or risk, they will set forth and act decisively, quickly and without looking back a hundred times. When they see a good idea or suggestion or promising possibility, the American acts. It is second nature to them. In this aspect, as we move eastwards, the ability or willingness to act unilaterally, drops off and as we reach Asia there is often paralysis from analysis. This is the most crucial difference between the Americans and almost all others in the world. The Europeans and Asians will often wait for someone else to take the first plunge, take the risk, prove that it can work before following, often like a herd. The American will lead in action. That is why they reap the rewards of 'innovation' or taking 'risk'. They have worked hard at really reducing risk for themselves, but it makes them appear the greatest risk takers, by acting first.

If there is one thing the Americans do NOT have and that contributes to their success, it is APATHY.

Now, I must say something about apathy here - it is not the apathy towards something unimportant, but towards issues that we can intellectually understand that it IS important to us. If they see it as important, the Americans will never be apathetic towards it. They WILL do something about it and ACT. Never mind if their actions turn out flawed. They will correct them if possible and continue to act while most others will argue on the sidelines. This is true not just on the national level but the personal, individual level.

Now, I believe that if someone or some society wants to be a leader or even an independent strong one, it has to be like America in these four 'A's. There is no getting around that. The one country that the Americans see as a great threat, is one that is actually following in their footsteps today. It is behaving so much like the USA that it worries the Americans. That country is Russia! That is the real reason why the Americans seem to resent them so much even though they are many decades behind them.

Other nations and cultures related to Europe all have a varying mixture of the above qualities that reflect their respective status in the world today. The USA has been truly unique for a long time until now. The world, however, is changing. One hopes the USA will live up to its capabilities in adaptability. It will only keep it strong, not weaken it.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands

Like 0 Share


Comment Comment (2 comments)

Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2016-1-4 18:55
Reply Report KIyer 2016-1-4 19:53
Dr.Bill.Shen: adventurous
True!  Another A.

facelist doodle Doodle board

You need to login to comment Login | register


Recent comments

Star blogger










Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email:
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.