Lunch with John Vasconcellos
February 20, 1999
I had lunch with John Vasconcellos and we had an excellent discussion about trustworthiness, self esteem and leadership.
John is working on a paper called "For a New American Politics of Trust" and his thinking connects very well with my current thoughts on the importance of trust. I have re-written the article I am working on for the keizaidoyukai to incorporate some of these ideas.
John talks about self esteem as a very important human feeling. There are to contrary visions of human nature according to John. "We humans are evil monsters needing to be tamed," and that of Carl Rogers' "we humans are innately inclinded towards becoming constructive, life-affirming, responsible, and trustworthy." John says, "Both republicans' laissez faire and Democrats' command and control no longer fit us human, who we are, our way of being. Only collaboration fits, works."
About leadership, John says "The true leader is that person who, by the character of their presence, inspires other pesons to recognize, and to realize their innate capacity for becoming their own leaders." In particular, I was very interested in his notion of leadership in the context of ego, power, etc. John's definition, I believe is an excellent one. It works very well with my current position in Japanese society and works very well with my version of Timothy Leary's famous quote, "Question Authority, Think For Yourself and Act."
Yamagishi and Yamagishi intentionally did not talk about trustworthiness and rather talked about trust. After talking to John, I believe that trustworthiness and the believe that one is trustworthy is as important as trust and is much more difficult to manage and develop.
Finally, John's notions on self esteem helped me think about the crime. I am thinking quite a bit about crime in the context of computer crime law for the NPA. One's belief or non-belief in the basic nature of human beings changes completely the direction that one takes policy on crime. Shame and guilt driving obedience or self esteem driving trustworthiness.
On gun control, obviously John was anti-gun, but he was open to pro-gun arguments and believed that it was a very complex issue.