All week the news here in Japan has been debating what to do about the influence of the bad American economy. Japan, China, India, and quite a few European countries are seriously considering pulling out a lot of their investments in the States and establishing their own accounts independent of the States, so that the US economy will no longer have such a strong effect on their own. If things go as they are there is a strong likelihood that Asian countries will form an economic bloc like the EU and this time not allow the US to bully them into accepting the US as one of its members (as it did with ASEAN). If that happens, well, the world had better watch out... just in manpower no other place in the world will have a chance economically. Until now it has always been the divisions and ancient quarreling that has kept Asian countries from uniting, but this time around economic realities and a sense of identification stronger than ever is making Asians rethink their positions in the world. Here in Japan most Japanese no longer look up to or admire the States any more. Just yesterday when my wife and I were discussing where we should consider moving next she adamantly refused to consider the US. "I will try anywhere, but I'm sorry I have absolutely no desire to go to the US." Twenty years ago it was every young Japanese's dream to live and work in the US and marry an American (well, the women at least). No longer. Walk into any movie theatre today. Just six years ago every movie on the list was American... today they are nearly all Japanese, Korean, or Chinese... the Japanese less and less want to watch anything from America.
What does this have to do with the original discussion here? Well, one of the things I'm pretty sure a lot of the international members (I just find it funny that I am considered one of the "international members" while, from my point of view, Americans are not local and therefore "international" in my eyes) here feel is that so often Americans talk among themselves, even when there are non-Americans present, often being unconsciously dismissive or downright exclusive. The whole measurement system discussion is one such example. Have you noticed that the international members here automatically talk with one another as one group, with the understanding that we are all in this together, whereas many Americans talk as if America is somehow separated from everyone else? The thing is Americans are just as much a part of the world community as everyone else. Speaking of America as "greater" than everyone else is not only insensitive to everyone, but also truly has a distasteful flavor to it... just imagine if you were sitting at a dinner table and there was one rich guest there boasting about how much "better" he was than everyone else.
What the international members and advocates of the metric system are trying, in part, to say, is that it does everyone in the community a lot of good if everyone would try to adopt a system that would make things easier for everyone, instead of just throwing in a spanner to mangle up the works. Sure preserving your cultural identity is important, but so is cooperating. Why do you think other countries gave up their local systems and adopted one that would work with the rest of the world? Or do you [Americans] think that people in other countries are less proud of their own heritage?
Just to set the record straight... I use both the metric system and the imperial system (and even some old Japanese systems, like the "tsubo") with equal facility, so I do understand what those who like the imperial system are advocating...