ERIC Number: ED291653
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Jan
Novus Ordo Seclorum: Or Why Americans Handle Time in Peculiar Ways.
Grove, Cornelius Lee
"A new order of the ages (is born)," is the meaning of the Latin phrase "novus ardo seclorum" which can be found on the back of a U.S. dollar bill. U.S. citizens are concerned with the passage of time, the near future, acting in a timely manner, and accomplishing tasks efficiently. These traits have become part of the national character. Efficiency is the U.S. cultural value that most explains the characteristic approach to business, allowing a desire for short-term profits to eclipse concern for long-term competitiveness. The reasons for this preoccupation with time and efficiency result from the birth and development of the United States as a nation. When the new world was first colonized, hard work and efficiency were essential for survival. One of the most influential faiths was Calvinism, which held that worldly prosperity was an outward sign of salvation. An influential later period in U.S. history was the time of frontier settlement, during which survival depended on getting necessary tasks done in an efficient and effective manner. Basic cultural values and attitudes change at a glacial pace, and the outlook of many U.S. citizens in the late 1980s continues to be that individual worldly success is morally desirable and there is no reason why a person should not attain it with maximum efficiency. (SM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: AFS International/Intercultural Programs, Inc., New York, NY.