We Are Not Alone
Its so easy to take things for granted, things like consensus,
and openness, and maintenance. These things are part of our lives
in ASTM. Were so used to them that theyve become ordinary. Routine.
Predictable. With the whole world sitting on our desktop, its
no wonder we lose sight of whats in our backyard.
Agreement by consensus, for example, is an extraordinary accomplishment,
a sign that weve evolved as human beings and as scientists. A
consensus arising out of fiercely contesting factions is extraordinary
at the least. But in ASTM, its done at its bestin an atmosphere
of fairness and equality.
Maintenance is something of a thankless job, but somebodys got
to do it. Taking responsibility for the standards you have already
created, keeping them alive and in constant forward motion isnt
glamorous. Its like juggling, or playing the piano. Nobody sees
you practice. They come for the performance. At ASTM, the performance
is always good.
Take the fact that ASTM is completely, unequivocally, and without
reservation, an open Society. Nowhere in the world is access so
easy, so freely given, so unencumbered. There are places in the
world, most places, in fact, where this kind of openness just
doesnt exist. We cant lose sight of things like that. Theyre
the real miracles of our present day.
Theres something else we cant lose sight of either, and its
that the world really is sitting on our desktops, and that were
not creating our miracles in isolation. Some of us have to do
business in that world, and for many of us, the way to do it is
as yet unclear. The only way to conquer a new market is to know
how it works. Knowing that, weve added something to our Technical
and Professional Training Program, a new course called Technical
Requirements for Entry into the European Union. Our instructor
is the former ASTM Washington Representative and Director of Global
Affairs, Helen Delaney, who was also, for three years, the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards attaché
in the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels. The course
can be conducted on a company site, in a government agency, anywhere
theres a need. The Department of Commerces Export Assistance
Center and the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center were
our partners for the first course.
Weve got a spectacular way of doing things in ASTM and in the
United States. It works for us. Our economy is proof of that.
But were not alone, and ours isnt the only way. There are other
ways and we need to know what they are if we are going to be successful
at navigating the world and accessing its markets. That doesnt
mean we can take what we have here for granted. It only means
that we are not alone.