Celebrity Buddhists - William Ford, Jr.]
Chairman, Ford Motor Company, Grandson of
Motorists frequently joke that word Ford stands for Fix Or
Repair Daily, Found On the Road Dead, or Fast Only Rolling
Downhill. But the world's second largest car maker is headed by a
Buddhist, Mr. William Clay Ford, Jr., who is the great grandson
of the famous American automobile industrialist Henry Ford, the
inventor of assembly line manufacturing technique. (Remember his
father, Henry Ford II, fired Lee Iacocca, who later defected to
Chrysler and saved the ritual Company from bankruptcy?)
William Clay Ford Jr., brings Buddhist philosophies,
environmental concerns and grand aspirations to his lofty
position at the helm of an American automobile Empire, Ford Motor
Company. He had been a vegetarian for 10 years and embraced
martial arts, acupuncture, yoga, as well as Zen, Tibetan and
Vipassana Buddhism. In his office, there is his photograph
getting his black belt in tae kwon do, putting one bare hand
through a stack of six cement patio bricks.
The young Chairman of the second largest automobile
manufacturer in the world (he was born on May 3, 1957) has a very
great passion for the environment. "Nature," he says,
"is where my heart is." His vision of a green Ford
Motor Company, he says, will become the site of an industrial
revolution, like what his grandfather, Henry Ford, had done. At
the Rouge manufacturing plant, cars will be made differently.
There is talk of making totally recyclable cars, made of parts
being upgradable or reusable. Cars will be easily assembled,
disassembled, and assembled again, like rebirth of sentient
beings in Buddhism.
Many critics charged that auto manufacturers, including Ford
Motor Company, are making huge profits from larger and larger gas
guzzlers, especially SUV's. Ford admitted that the popular
sport-utility trucks contributed to green house-gas levels and
global climate changes and were a safety concern for motorists of
smaller cars. Ford pledge to create SUV's that were cleaner and
safe - less of a menace to smaller vehicles on the road.
However, in the wake of the Firestone tire recall, Ford also
finds himself caught up in its biggest public relations crisis
since the rear-exploding Pinto debacle of the 1970's. When asked
where he is steering the Company that bear his own name, he
replies, "I don't known if a company can have a soul, but I
like to think it can. And if it can, then I'd like our soul to be
an old soul - and everything that implies. I like to talk about
things like values and soul. These things aren't transient. These
are things you build forever."
Meanwhile, as he is having a long soul-searching talk with
environmental activists about the end of the internal combustion
engine, he is pushing for electric car (the THINK will be
available in 2003 in USA).
For a biography of William Ford, Jr., visit Ford Motors Company's
official website, http://www.media.ford.com
Reference: Business Section, the Ottawa Citizen, December 30, 2000.
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