The Mazda exec puts a graph up on the screen.
On one axis, there’s price, on the other, quality. Most people, he explains, think that you have to sacrifice one for the other. This is visualized by a line that looks like this: \
Mazda doesn’t believe in that kind of exchange. At Mazda, you can have both. At Mazda, you can breakthrough.
Their insight feels a lot like marketing, but I think there’s a great deal of truth to it. More abstractly, presenting a dichotomy as an exclusive choice tends to promote myopia rather than logical clarity. It’s easy to pick out two contrasting ideals and begin to think that you can only have one, but that just isn’t true. This kind of thinking is important for JASC.
There’s a similar perception that you have to choose between helping other people and personal happiness. In some ways this makes sense. If you think of value as a limited thing that can either be held on to or given away, the more you give to others, the less you have for yourself. In practice, that just isn’t true. Just as teaching is the best way to learn, giving is often the best way to gain.
My thoughts here are even more radical. As Joanna mentioned in our reflection, peacekeeping starts on the individual level. In other words, the very framework of me/others creates a false dichotomy that prevents any real resolution. Inevitably, seeing selfishness as a sacrifice only leads to burnout and moral indulgence.
After Mazda, we head to the opening ceremony. After watching a video about JASC I’ve started to realize just how important this conference really is. This doesn’t come from the words of distinguished alumni nearly as much as it does from the historical context. It’s easy to see the U.S. government as an immense and all-powerful monolith that somehow exerts immeasurable control. The truth is that the entirety of U.S. Japan relations are managed by a large handful of foreign service agents who tend to move from country to country every few years. JASC is important because so little else is.
We also met the governor.