I had a conversation with a co-worker the other day. She’s Indonesian and an intrepid traveller.
She just got back from a trip to Japan and was remarking about how she managed to get all over Japan without speaking any Japanese. She just had the train and bus schedules. All she had to do was match the number of the route with the number on the side of the train and count the stops to get off. The Japanese have transport down and the schedule is king!
“It was SO easy and SO fast to get around. I couldn’t believe it! Why can’t Jakarta be like this? Well, maybe it will be better in 60 years!”
I told her that Hong Kong had come a long way in the last 40 years, so there was hope.
“Hong Kong, eh? Well, they had the British. They brought a lot of order and fairness and efficiency”
I didn’t want to point out that there were people in Africa and India that might disagree with her.
“We had the Dutch and you know they brought corruption and bad deals!”
I’m not up enough on my Indo/Dutch history, and I didn’t want to inflame things by arguing that the Dutch had been gone for 60 years. And I also didn’t want to point out that the Netherlands full of Dutch people, is clean and efficient, and is not known for its corruption.
Instead, I said, “The corruption is a drag on everything.”
“Yes, yes. You know? I make a conscious effort every day to break as few rules as possible when I come to work. Everyone does it, but I really try to follow the rules. Maybe we’ll improve in 40 years.”
That’s the spirit