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Thomas Friedman authored The World is Flat in 2005, where he points out how goods and services are being bid, contracted for, and provided by freelancers around the world. Well, I bought into that, and of the 25 books I have had published, 24 of them have been handled by a self-publishing service in Australia, which gets the cover work done in Pakistan, and puts them on Amazon.

If you want a book published or a subdivision in Norphlet platted out, you can put it on and get bids to do the work from all over the world.

I wrote The Crystal Chistmas Tree for children ages 4 to 6 and needed illustrations. Using the same connections, I found a Russian artist living in Greece who did its pen and ink drawings, and my artist daughter Lara colorized them.

International trade is worldwide. That’s great, because the more everyone in the world is business connected, the safer our world becomes. You don’t go to war with your customers. But as great as that relationship is, the democratic phenomenon that is sweeping the world is superior, and that democracy comes from the United States.

In the mid-1960s, Vertis and I were living in Benghazi, Libya, and decided to spend a long weekend in Athens, Greece, celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. East African Airways had a route from South Africa to Athens that stopped in Benghazi, and even though it left at 3:30 a.m., we were chomping at the bit to get away.

Our anniversary is Jan. 17, so it was cold in Athens when we arrived, but we jumped right into trying to do everything possible in the few days we were going to be there.

We hit the Archeological Museum first, and then late in the day, when we were ready for dinner, we asked the desk clerk where he would go for dinner. He seemed surprised that Americans wanted to eat where a Greek would, but we told him we weren’t about to dine at any of the fancy tourist restaurants around Constitution Square.

He gave us directions and after walking deep into the Plaka area of the old city, we found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The waiter handed us an all-Greek menu, then smiled and motioned for us to come to a display case where we could point and pick our dinner.

Everything about us stood out, but not as much as it did the next night. We had just seen the movie Never on Sunday and wanted to hear some Greek music. So with more directions from the hotel desk clerk, we ventured deeper into the Plaka section where a large restaurant was offering Greek music. Every person in the restaurant was dressed in black. Vertis was wearing all white, but even if we had been wearing black, we would have stood out. Greek clothing and ordinary American wear were miles apart.

That’s not the case today. Last year we were back in Greece on a driving vacation when we stopped in Patas, a small Greek town well away from Athens. Vertis and I walked across the street from our hotel to an ordinary lunch place with counter service and an all-Greek menu.

With help from a waiter, owner, and a customer, we dined on lamb kabobs, fries, salad, and drinks for under $12. What was surprising was how the local lunch crowd was an open display of how the social world has become flat.

If you had picked up the crowd of locals who came by while we were eating and dropped them in a Little Rock shopping mall, they would have blended right in with torn jeans and T-shirts, and not just the younger ones.

Virtually every customer held an American cell phone and seemed glued to it, just like their American counterparts. The television featured American programming, as American music blared. The food was still Greek, but it was served American style.

Vertis and I sat there talking about how whatever in America is hot dominates nearly every country in the world. The root of the influence is the American Internet; our lifestyles are being copied worldwide. We are exporting a lifestyle on social media, with our values coming along, and democracy is part of the mix. It certainly isn’t a surprise that the Chinese in Hong Kong who are protesting are calling for freedom as they wave American flags.

The democratic values of the United States are also having a global influence, and with all our wrinkles, our social and democratic values are making the world a better place in which to live.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union are directly related to a combination of social and democratic values, which had their origin in America. Those values, in contrast with the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe dictatorships, created a move toward democracy.

As the world becomes more and more dependent upon the United States for commercial and intellectual items, the safer we become, and the less conflict we will have in the world. The United States is riding on a wave of a social revolution around the world, and those social values are ingrained in our democracy.

Torn jeans, Facebook, cell phones and rap music are changing the world for the better.

Email Richard Mason at [email protected] .

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