Thomas Friedman's column concludes:
In a flat world where everyone has access to everything, values matter more than ever. Right now the Hindus and Confucians have more Protestant ethics than we do, and as long as that is the case we’ll be No. 11.
Ah, dear Mr. Friedman -- I think the U.S. is undergoing a revolution of values that are more akin with the values of Hindus and Confucians. So you are right, the Hindus and Confucians are learning about Protestant ethics...and Americans are learning the values of the "Other" (or at least what used to be their values before they learned Protestant ethics)...and isn't that the yin-yang of things that keep things in balance? So why beat a dying horse? What you call the "greatest generation" may have produced its own unintended consequences. It created affluence that lulled and numbed affluent Americans to the idea of responsibility and sacrifice. The "success" of corporate capitalism has reduced us to being mere consumers of brand names and cheap imports. Like the slogan of one superstore: why pay more?
Friedman's article cites sources that blame either school reform or the lack of motivation of students. But instead of asking why reform is failing or why students are lacking in motivation, he insists on reverting back to the "values of the greatest generation." But what if this generation doesn't want those values and want something else? Many students today know about Gaia theory, about ecological limits, about interdependent and interconnected survival on the planet. They do not want to be no. 1; in fact, they don't like hierarchies of any kind. They hear about the stories of genocides and holocausts committed by their ancestors and they are horrified that this was done in the name of being no. 1. No, they tell me; it's not about being no. 1, it's not about "us" versus "them", it's about "all of us".
Another World is Possible. Another America is Necessary.
Let's teach the U.S. the values of Kapwa and Kagandahang Loob and Pakikiramdam.