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The risk of a global perspective

One of Rachel’s plans for 2006 is to learn to drive, and this reminded me of a favorite anecdote that shows what can happen in a household where “global perspective” has become a mantra. She came to me not long ago with a small book in her hand and said, “I’m not sure this is for the right country.” The book was The Highway Code, the UK driving manual. I’d picked up a copy for Tom once upon a time, and he had handed it to her when she asked for the book she should study to get her permit. Now I’m wondering what Tom read to take his driving test three years ago.

We’ll soon be launching a website where people can tell us what they think about many aspects of American life and culture, and I already know that we’ll be getting comments on American driving. I learned to drive in England and still hear the driving instructor’s voice, talking about how crucial it is to “make progress” (ie, stay out of other people’s way). “Lane control” is also considered vital to harmonious driving: Americans take note.

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