I'm an aspirant of the Dale Carnegie school of "How to Win Friends & Influence People." This iconic book was written in 1936 and I first read it in the 70's, early teens. Its simple philosophies seem so common-sensical that I really can't imagine why people thought the book was so earth shattering. Basically, it says: "don't criticize," "show interest in other people," and "work hard." The examples are a little dated but they seem common enough. I certainly found them inspiring and I am ever vigilant to reflecting similar traits, however....
I didn't understand then, and am only just now getting it, that Mr. Carnegie's recommendations are a proto-American philosophy not necessarily shared by other Western cultures... Let alone socialist cultures. "How to Win Friends & Influence People" is about individualism. It just goes to show you that the culture you're raised in taints your view so centrally that we just take it for granted that other cultures must share the same logic. Case in point: Nicolas Sarkozy is the new "conservative" French president. I followed his campaign run because he was pro-American, and I wondered how he would fare with the French people. However, after reading his positions, I couldn't tell what was "conservative" about him - he could have ran as a Democrat in the U.S.
As it turns out, apparently, Mr. Sarkozy's jogging is what makes him a "conservative." You see, Nicolas Sarkozy gets up every morning and runs a couple laps. "Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans," (Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent of the Times of London), and "jogging is of course about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the right," (Odile Braudrier, editor of V02 magazine). What is even more amazing is Sarkozy's response: "Of course [jogging] is right-wing." The right, however, vehemently disagree. Ian Morrison of the Telegraph Web site said, "No decent conservative would dream of jogging. It's a vulgar, untraditional form of self-advertisement that might frighten the horses."
Jogging? I hate jogging. Does that mean when I approach political office that I have to run as a liberal?