The Universal Want

iwojima.jpgLast week I saw Clint Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwo Jima.” It’s the story of the bloody 1945 battle from the perspective of the losing side. The message I took away from the movie was as expected: war makes no sense.

Since the movie I’ve been thinking of how the world has changed. At one some point during my travels these past two decades I came to the not so surprising conclusion that while everyone is unique we all basically want the same exact thing: for our children to have a safe and better life than our own and us the freedom to pursue our own path of happiness. I call it “Our Universal Want.”

I am also mindful of the many meetings I have attended over the past several years in what would have been hostile enemy territory 60 years ago: Berlin and Tokyo to name a few. I have toasted a drink, laughed, planned and discussed matters of business and life with Germans, Swedes, Finns, Dutch, Danish, Swiss, French, Israeli, Arab, Indian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, English and countless others. And you know what? I cannot think of a single time when I was not treated with hospitality, respect and genuine care.

Perhaps one of the greatest miracles of modern life is that for the most part the world is at peace. And in many ways it would shamefully seem it is America that continues stirring up trouble with our never quenchable thirst for cheaper products, cheaper labor and cheaper energy. It would seem this drives much of the World’s remaining conflict.

Ironically it is our leaders that hide behind “christian” or “family values” as some sort of odd rationale for their actions. I say, “my, aren’t we pitiful?” It should be no surprise to the rest of the world that our country is still so young. As a country we often act like adolescents – we actually think it is all about us. Collectively we have no perspective, no patience and little tolerance for the rest of the world. Just make damn sure the Happy Meals have free toys for the kids and we’re good. We need to grow up.

War makes no sense and regrettably it would seem in many ways the comfortable American life is the enemy ranging war against the Universal Want. I fear that maybe in the eyes of the rest of the world the axis of evil may be us.