Traditions: collide and compromise

East meets West. New Year and Valentine’s. Families vs lovers.

In Vietnam, with a strong Confucian foundation, filial quality stands above all else.

So on that first day of this year of the Tiger, sons and daughters are expected to show up first thing at the parents’ door steps.

Then, in the evening, this year only, they can sneak out to rendezvous with their sweethearts on Valentines Day.

If you took the fireworks in major cities into the mix, we are talking about Western traditions wrapping around Eastern culture.

Today, it’s President Day in the US. And President Obama will face tough choices: to meet with the Dalai Lama, risking to alienate a huge bond holder.

We expect Presidents to take a stand at the crossroad: Kennedy facing up to the Cuban invasion, Johnson choosing between the Great Society or inheriting French Vietnam, and now Obama electing to have government intervention and involvement in financial institutions.

Values often collide and force a compromise.

You can measure a man’s maturity by seeing how many of those compromises he has made. (And his integrity by how few).

By design, we are made of “opposites attract” from a set of parents. No wonder we walk that tight rope our whole life (at least I have) with the creative tension of push and pull.

The only way to keep the balance is to move forward, inadvertently, creating a Third force, a synthesis. Einstein once said life was like riding a bicycle, you needed to keep paddling forward to stay in balance.

Those in sales can recognize this dynamic: corporate expectation versus market reality. Customers expectations ride on top of lab engineers’ vision.

(Google video store had been a flop before the YouTube acquisition).

So, red lucky envelope or heart-shape chocolate? Just one day, but an important one, we saw a rare eclipse. In Vietnam, young lovers have never celebrated  New Year this eagerly. They have their own agenda. And sneaking out will only make forbidden fruit taste all the more sweeter. And years from now, it will be their turn to scold their young ones for not showing up first thing (with a mischievous smile of course). This generation wants it both ways, without compromise. Text and talk.


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