Lately, I have been on the road again. In January and February I made a lengthy and somewhat strenuous journey to East Africa and South Asia. It was all business, though, for me, this kind of business is always a pleasure. I am lucky in that way. Travelling to remote places, meeting incredible people, experiencing what the world is truly like outside the American womb is always an invigorating education, if not a mind numbing, exhausting one. Now, on the road again, this time to Colorado, Utah, California, Florida and Connecticut I am again struck by the magnificence of America. I am lucky in that way too. I am also made painfully aware of how little American’s appreciate the incredible productivity of the American way of life.
There is much ado about the crippled infrastructure of 21st century America. Indeed, aging bridges, outmoded airports, freeways strangled by traffic, aging post World War II and post 1990s housing stock sagging before our eyes speaks to an America that desperately needs its leadership to act in concert to return it to the “shining example on the hill” pundits often opine about.
Education is under attack for failing to educate our kids and gouging aspiring collegians. Health care is under attack for its expense and failure to meet the needs of those in greatest peril. The news cannot resist sharing all this so-called bad news and laying blame on anyone available other than themselves. But, when travelling around the country it is hard not to realize how blessed we are relative to the poverty, poor governance, corruption and general chaos in countries with no infrastructure, no easily available route to higher education, absent healthcare safety nets, corruption at all levels and a future that seems perpetually at risk. If it weren’t for the strength of the family unit and community support and the universal drive to not just survive, but persist and even thrive, life in the developing world would appear to be hopeless. In the end, those in the developing world want no less then what we desire at home, a safe reasonably stable world where the opportunity to improve one’s lot is real. I still believe America represents that potential. That is a luxury for those born in to poverty where every day is a challenge.
I find beauty and pain in almost all places I visit. Wherever I travel I find people gracious, curious and thoughtful. Of course, there are those that belay that profile abroad and at home. Yet, without question America’s overall appeal, in spite of all its warts, is a thing of beauty. And without question those faraway places also have an incredible appeal when one looks closely at the people, their culture, and the strength of the family unit amidst the natural beauty of their own world.
I am very lucky to have been born in America, political machinations aside. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to see what the rest of the world is like as well. I am lucky to have the privilege and time to incorporate the best of both into my own world. It makes me a better person. It makes me want to do more to bring everyone, regardless of where they live, closer together. I am lucky all around to have been born in America.