We lie at an unprecedented moment of global unity, even if it may not feel like it. I think Mark Zuckerberg got it very right in his recent manifesto to re-boot globalization. In particular, this quote really jumped out at me:
“If people are asking the question, is the direction for humanity to come together more or not? I think that answer is clearly yes.”
It surprised me during the presidential campaigns when I saw that both sides found some common ground around the issue of globalization. But their point of agreement saddened me: globalization must stop. To the cheers and hollers of many, the concept of isolationism was embraced as the cure-all solution to many of our country’s woes. Yet the advancements we’ve put forth as a global community must not be dismissed. There remains an urgent need for us to continue the remarkable and very beneficial interweaving of the 7 billion people on this planet. In this vein, Zuckerburg’s manifesto extolls the need to continue to come together as a global social community and outlines the ways his company should focus their efforts to help. It’s the right message at the right time.
As a child brought to the Bay Area in the 1970’s, I recall a time of greater global ignorance, intolerance and even anger. Even among the historically diversified cities in the Bay Area, few could find the mysterious home of my mother on a map—Peru. These were days still marked by the ever-present white noise of the Cold War—tales of war, embargos and walls; a planet divided by weaponry.
With military anxieties came economic ones. The Russians and their government subsidies were going to cripple our ability to compete and lead to our military defeat. Then the Japanese were going to crush the West with better quality, lower-cost products and state-approved corporate cooperation. Korea, Mexico, Germany, Saudi Arabia—each was feared at one point or another to be capable of disabling the American economy. We worried we were “second best,” had become “lazy,” weren’t subsidized enough, and as a developed society, were unsustainably expensive. In the end, one by one, all these countries were folded into our global economic fabric. But with China’s economic rise, we are back where we started, at the doorstep of economic anxiety.
Yet history will repeatedly tell you countries and the world bloom upon trade and integration. The bottom line is no civilization becomes great by putting up barriers. Every time walls or Great Walls are built, they eventually fail. When countries turn inward, rather than advancing, they get left behind and become sad reflections of past glory. Let us not be blind to the tremendous gains we’ve made as global community for our ability to interact, communicate and trade with each other, even as individuals and small business owners, are at mind-numbing heights compared to even a decade ago.
Science, religion, culture and economics only advance when isolationism wanes and global interconnectivity is alive and thriving.