THE WORLD IS FLAT: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L.
Friedman., N.Y.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 488 pp. , 2005. (HM846.F74).
The question was raised if this work belongs in a church library with a mission statement focused on God, human kind and the universe. Thomas Friedman is a three times Pulitzer Prize winner for his work at the NEW YORK TIMES. He says “The WORLD IS FLAT.” Can the church be relevant if it does not recognize the world in which it carries out its mission?
The author asks what historians will say has been the most crucial development? The 9/11 attack on the United States, or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for service and manufacturing? The middle classes of the world’s two biggest nations have a huge stake in the success of globalization. With this “flattening” of the globe the U.S. and E. U. will have to run faster than ever, while sharing the world’s wealth with poorer nations. Friedman says “China’s leaders are much more focused than many of their Western counterparts on how to train their young people in the math, science and computer skills required for success in the flat world…” (P. 118)
This flat world allowed Al-Qaeda operatives to rely heavily on the Internet in planning and coordinating the September 11 attacks. Rather than 9/11 Friedman urges the reader to think about 11/9 when the Berlin Wall tumbled down. The generation of 11/9 is the “generation of strategic optimists, the generation with more dreams than memories, the generation that wakes up each morning and not only imagines that things can be better but also acts on that imagination every day.” (P. 469)
This story in the section on “offshoring,” (p. 114), addresses how the Occident should respond, after acknowledging that the world is flat. A CEO of an American auto parts manufacturing company in China posted at his factory the following African proverb, translated into Mandarin:
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
…The Library Committee