What is the measure of a good life?
Robert D. Hormats is the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. He was formerly vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International) and managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Hormats has also served as ambassador and deputy US Trade Representative, and senior deputy assistant secretary for Economic and Business Affairs at the US Department of State. He was a senior staff member on the National Security Council and senior economic advisor to National Security Advisors Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Hormats has received the French Legion of Honor and Arthur Fleming Award.
Mr. Hormats has been a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Dean's Council of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Mr. Hormats' publications include Abraham Lincoln and the Global Economy; American Albatross: The Foreign Debt Dilemma; and Reforming the International Monetary System. Mr. Hormats earned a B.A. from Tufts University with a concentration in economics and political science; an M.A. and a Ph.D. in international economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Question: What is the measure of a good life?
Robert Hormats: The measure of a good life, I think, is to feel that you have made a contribution to the world, or to your country, or to your society; that you’ve been a constructive and productive human being during the time you have here on this earth.
It’s to feel that you have good friends and strong family ties that are important. Friends and family are extremely important. Not only are they uplifting in terms of your own life, but they sort of reaffirm the value of life itself. They reaffirm this notion that you’re not an individual. You’re part of a society where family and friends are important. And deep family values, I think, are extremely important. And deep values of loyalty to your friends are extremely important.
I think also enjoying the respect of other people where they respect you as a human being, for you integrity, for your candor, for your willingness to help them in tough times.
Being a fair weather friend does not really constitute, in my judgment, much of a friendship – being there not just in the good times, but when times are tough, being there for others.
And it’s also demonstrating good values in the way you deal with other people; that you have respect for others; that you care about them; that you are willing to work with other people. And one of the things I look at in others is are they as respectful of the guy who opens the door in your apartment, or the taxi driver, or the waiter at a restaurant, as they are of their boss or someone who can control whether they have a job, or whether they get promoted, or what salary they get.
I think you have to have respect for people across the board. If you are disrespectful of people because you don’t think they can do anything for you, but highly respectful of people who you need in order to advance your career, you’re really living a sort of bifurcated life.
And I watch people and how they deal with others, and I try on my own to recognize that dealing with others and recognizing they want respect just as you do is an important part of one’s--at least in my value system.
Recorded On: July 25, 2007
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