So, this is the Asian Century? Pretty disappointing so far. People who make their living at guessing about things have been telling us this will be the Chinese Century, or the Indian Century, or simply the Asian Century. And so far, it has been pretty Asian, judging by all the consumer goods manufactured in China and serviced in India. But where’s the fascination with all things Asian that say, the American Century produced, or before that, the British Century? Not to take anything away from the great strides these two nations have made in recent years, but if being boring is the new standard for getting a century, well, they are there. It’s hard to be fascinated with people and cultures with no discernible sense of humor, no penchant for adventurous or wild behavior and a distinct lack of personality.

At least in the American Century you had people like Howard Hughes, Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, FDR, Muhammed Ali, Elvis Presley, John Dillinger, Richard Nixon, Charles Manson, Shirley Temple, Martin Luther King, Clark Gable, Bill Clinton, J. Edgar Hoover, George Patton, Betty Grable, Abby Hoffman, Malcom X, Billy Graham, Angela Davis, Judy Garland, Neil Armstrong, Gloria Steinem, Henry Ford, Evel Knievel, George Wallace, Aretha Fanklin, Marlon Brando, Al Capone, Rosa Parks, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Frank Sinatra, Lyndon Johnson and countless others who for better or worse, were larger than life and put their own stamp on what is America, not only within America but throughout the world. 

Where are the Asian magnets for the world’s attention? Since the passing of the monstrous Chairman Mao, can anybody name a memorable leader of China? Or any leader of India besides Indira Gandhi? And where are their outrageous personalities, the kind of people whose very existence commands the world’s attention? It sure isn’t that guy you call when you have problems with your credit card who won’t even give you his real name. Can anyone imagine an American service operator telling customers his name is Chacwadar or Latangi so they feel more comfortable speaking with him or here? How would you like to be the guy to ask one of us to do that? 

And does modern China register on people’s imaginations outside of all those “Made in China” labels on everything from our underwear to our computers? The exotic and mysterious China of bygone days is no more, replaced by the faceless anonymity of a billion earnest workers doing their best not to rock the boat. Don’t they at least have any interesting criminals? Something? Anything other than a tyrannical government and a compliant populace? Or in India, are there any other issues besides religion and class? And in both those nations there are more people starving than live in the United States. How can you get your own century when you can’t even feed your people?

So if these nations really want to usher in a true Asian Century, they’ve got to do more and be more than to function as the manufacturing and service arms of Western nations. Any great political ideas or initiatives coming out of there? Any Declarations of Independence, Magna Cartas or Bills of Rights? Any great world statesmen they are hiding from us? Great inventions? Anybody there sending out a Peace Corps or helping their poverty stricken neighboring nations? Any great art or music or novels that shake up the world being produced in those nations? Something other than technical manuals?  There must be, given the size of their populations and doing the math. Share it with us already! Can they make a little noise over there? If we’re going to be living in your century, Asia, at least make it interesting and worth our while.

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