By Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson proposed a Capital Day to complement Labor Day. In that spirit, I suggest a Foreigner Day to complement the world’s ubiquitous National Days and Independence Days. Here’s how Robin explains the point of Capital Day:
as on Labor Day we may pause to notice the busboy who would usually
escape our notice, today let us notice the capital around us, without
which we would be impoverished and uncivilized. Let us also wonder if
we take capital too much for granted. Do we neglect the ways in which
we may discourage its creation or maintenance?
Similarly, just as on National Days you take the time to appreciate your nation’s virtues and accomplishments, the point of Foreigner Day is to appreciate other nations’ virtues and accomplishments. What can we learn from foreigners? In what ways should we emulate foreigners? Is it possible that we take foreigners for granted – or even mistreat them?
Foreigner Day is not about self-hatred, but the quest for self-improvement. Suppose your country is the best on Earth. It would still be miraculous if your country were the best in every respect. So why not examine the planet in all its variety and see how yours can improve? And needless to say, half the world’s countries are, by definition, worse than most countries on Earth. Foreigner Day, for them, is a time to humbly look beyond their borders for solutions their own culture has failed to originate.
Foreigner Day is a simultaneously a celebration of both multiculturalism and Western civilization. Like multiculturalism, it takes seriously the fact that almost every culture has something of value to share with the world. But it also embraces Western civilization at its best: Universalism, or, as I call it, openness to awesomeness.
Robin suggests celebrating Capital Day half a year away from Labor Day. In the absence of a better idea, I suggest celebrating Foreigner Day every January 4th, half a year away from the 4th of July.