Three Things I Ask Of Mothers For Mother’s Day

Happy Mothers' Day!
Happy Mothers' Day!
Rosely Sayão


On Mothers' Day, mothers are recognized and receive praise from their families and society at large. It's a special day that nobody should forget to celebrate, right? My homage will consist of a few requests and some words of gratitude.

Cultivating patience is the first thing I would ask mothers to do. They would need patience to deal with the nights of bad sleep because their babies were crying, to survive the whining and stubbornness of small children, to navigate the pointless arguments with teenagers and, even, to endure the apparent lack of gratitude shown by aloof adult sons and daughters.

I know how difficult it is because it's not just one whine, one sleepless night, one dispute with your teenage son, one wound from the contempt expressed by your adult child. It's many of these things, and more. But this is what raising children is all about: it's an "unrecoverable investment", as a colleague of mine puts it. This is why I pay homage to, and thank, mothers for their love, generosity and sacrifice, all done in silence, without anybody noticing the times they desperately sought the best solutions for the seemingly unsolvable problems their children faced. I want to thank them for not giving up, regardless of how bad the situation might have been.

The second thing I ask of mothers is not to feel guilty for the mistakes their sons and daughters might make, for the decisions their children take and which, in retrospect, appear to have been the wrong ones due to the frustration those decisions led to.

Not letting go just yet â€" Photo: Renato Lombardero

Mothers, just like anybody else, have flaws and these don't miraculously disappear with maternity. Mothers have their limits, their blind spots, and they try to bring out the best in themselves even though they don't always succeed.

For that reason, I want to thank mothers who forgive themselves, who try to understand themselves better and who, for the most part, accept their children when they start acting differently from the way they had hoped.

The third and last thing I would like is for mothers to let their kids have the school life they want, depending on their children’s results at the time. We've been giving far too much importance to grades, and, with it, burdening our children with undeserved criticism and disappointment.

Children don't need to like going to school, they don't need to get good grades. What children need is to learn, to be curious and eager to know more, and there are more ways to get there than with schools. We just need schools to keep going ahead, as Natalia Ginzburg wrote in her book The Little Virtues.

For that, I am thankful to mothers who don't give in to the temptation of following their children's every step at school, and, especially, to those who consider the teaching of virtues, honesty, morals and ethics as more important than anything else.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the mothers who reflect on their jobs, the most important of all jobs, and who lose minutes, or even hours, of sleep reorganizing their motherly duties.

A very happy and loving Mothers' Day to all!

*Rosely Sayão is a psychologist and educational consultant.

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How China Flipped From Tech Copycat To Tech Leader

Long perceived as a country chasing Western tech, China's business and technological innovations are now influencing the rest of the world. Still lagging on some fronts, the future is now up for grabs.

At the World Semiconductor Conference in Nanjing, China, on June 9

Emmanuel Grasland

BEIJING — China's tech tycoons have fallen out of favor: Jack Ma (Alibaba), Colin Huang (Pinduoduo), Richard Liu (Tencent) and Zhang Yiming (ByteDance) have all been pressured by Beijing to leave their jobs or step back from a public role. Their time may be coming to an end, but the legacy remains exceptional. Under their reign, China has become a veritable window to the global future of technology.

TikTok is the perfect example. Launched in 2016, the video messaging app has been downloaded over two billion times worldwide. It has passed the 100-million active user mark in the United States. Thanks to TikTok's success, ByteDance, its parent company, has reached an exceptional level of influence on the internet.

For a long time, the West viewed China's digital ecosystem as a cheap imitation of Silicon Valley. The European and American media described the giants of the Asian superpower as the "Chinese Google" or "Chinese Amazon." But the tables have turned.

No Western equivalent to WeChat

The Asian superpower has forged cutting-edge business models that do not exist elsewhere. It is impossible to find a Western equivalent to the WeChat super-app (1.2 billion users), which is used for shopping as much as for making a medical appointment or obtaining credit.

The flow of innovation is now changing direction.

The roles have actually reversed: In a recent article, Les Echos describes the California-based social network IRL, as a "WeChat of the Western world."

Grégory Boutté, digital and customer relations director at the multinational luxury group Kering, explains, "The Chinese digital ecosystem is incredibly different, and its speed of evolution is impressive. Above all, the flow of innovation is now changing direction."

This is illustrated by the recent creation of "live shopping" events in France, which are hosted by celebrities and taken from a concept already popular in China.

10,000 new startups per day

There is an explosion of this phenomenon in the digital sphere. Rachel Daydou, Partner & China General Manager of the consulting firm Fabernovel in Shanghai, says, "With Libra, Facebook is trying to create a financial entity based on social media, just as WeChat did with WeChat Pay. Facebook Shop looks suspiciously like WeChat's mini-programs. Amazon Live is inspired by Taobao Live and YouTube Shopping by Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok."

In China, it is possible to go to fully robotized restaurants or to give a panhandler some change via mobile payment. Your wallet is destined to be obsolete because your phone can read restaurant menus and pay for your meal via a QR Code.

The country uses shared mobile chargers the way Europeans use bicycles, and is already testing electric car battery swap stations to avoid 30 minutes of recharging time.

Michael David, chief omnichannel director at LVMH, says, "The Chinese ecosystem is permanently bubbling with innovation. About 10,000 start-ups are created every day in the country."

China is also the most advanced country in the electric car market. With 370 models at the end of 2020, it had an offering that was almost twice as large as Europe's, according to the International Energy Agency.

Photo of a phone's screen displaying the logo of \u200bChina's super-app WeChat

China's super-app WeChat

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/ZUMA

The whole market runs on tech

Luca de Meo, CEO of French automaker Renault, said in June that China is "ahead of Europe in many areas, whether it's electric cars, connectivity or autonomous driving. You have to be there to know what's going on."

As a market, China is also a source of technological inspiration for Western companies, a world leader in e-commerce, solar, mobile payments, digital currency and facial recognition. It has the largest 5G network, with more than one million antennas up and running, compared to 400,000 in Europe.

Self-driving cars offer an interesting point of divergence between China and the West.

Just take the number of connected devices (1.1 billion), the time spent on mobile (six hours per day) and, above all, the magnitude of data collected to deploy and improve artificial intelligence algorithms faster than in Europe or the United States.

The groundbreaking field of self-driving cars offers an interesting point of divergence between China and the West. Artificial intelligence guru Kai-Fu Lee explains that China believes that we should teach the highway to speak to the car, imagining new services and rethinking cities to avoid cars crossing pedestrians, while the West does not intend to go that far.

Still lagging in some key sectors

There are areas where China is still struggling, such as semiconductors. Despite a production increase of nearly 50% per year, the country produces less than 40% of the chips it consumes, according to official data. This dependence threatens its ambitions in artificial intelligence, telecoms and autonomous vehicles. Chinese manufacturers work with an engraving fineness of 28 nm or more, far from those of Intel, Samsung or TSMC. They are unable to produce processors for high-performance PCs.

China's aerospace industry is also lagging behind the West. There are also no Chinese players among the top 20 life science companies on the stock market and there are doubts surrounding the efficacy of Sinovac and Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines. As of 2019, the country files more patents per year than the U.S., but far fewer are converted into marketable products.

Beijing knows its weaknesses and is working to eliminate them. Adopted in March, the nation's 14th five-year plan calls for a 7% annual increase in R&D spending between now and 2025, compared with 12% under the previous plan. Big data aside, that is basic math anyone can understand.
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