"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent
are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell
Story Short: Wisdom through the back door.
Time is short so I'm going to borrow a column
from one of my favorite people, PBS's own
Rick Steves. He is about the only openly
religious person whom I trust at their word.
He recently visited Iran and I urge you to
read his very entertaining and enlightening blog on
Take it away,
Sarah Palin’s Small World
In a recent CBS interview, Katie Couric asked
Governor Sarah Palin why she’d never
had a passport and hadn’t traveled
outside of the USA until about a year ago.
Palin answered, “I’m not one
of those who maybe came from a background
of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college,
and their parents get them a passport and
a backpack and say, ‘Go off and travel
the world.’ No…. I was not part
of, I guess, that culture.”
I understand that many people just can’t
afford to travel. But anyone with the money
to own a snowmobile and the time to hunt
moose has the money to learn a bit about
our world through international travel. What
Palin lacks is not money, but curiosity.
The value of travel is nothing new. Nearly
1,500 years ago, Muhammad said, "Don't
tell me how educated you are. Tell me how
much you've traveled." Thomas Jefferson
wrote: "Travel makes a person wiser,
if less happy." Mark Twain wrote: "Travel
is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." Today,
Europe has a well-funded “Erasmus Program” that
enables millions of students to study and
professors to teach in foreign countries.
Many Americans will never bother to get a
passport and travel. But, especially since
9/11, I believe that any politician asking
for the trust to run our country should be
interested enough in the other 96 percent
of humanity to have figured out a way to
get out there and actually see some of it
These days, the brand of America is hurting
overseas. Our ambassadors routinely don’t
speak the language of the countries they
are stationed in. Cities are shut down by
security when our president passes through.
We are routinely outvoted in the United Nations
140 to 5 on issues that matter to the developing
world. Our country, with 4 percent of this
world’s population, feels the need
to spend as much as every country combined
on its military to feel safe (and, it seems,
you can’t get elected without promising
more). And meanwhile, half of humanity is
trying to live on $2 a day. There may be
all sort of good excuses for these facts.
But they are facts, nevertheless…and
it’s not a pretty picture for our nation.
The stakes are high and the challenges confronting
America are complex. We need to engage thoughtfully
with the family of nations because the most
serious problems confronting us right now
cannot be solved without international collaboration.
The “go it alone” approach of
the last eight years has proven not only
ineffective…we can’t afford it.
Now, more than ever, we need smart leaders
who, at a minimum, acknowledge the importance
of travel and the urgent need for America
to connect constructively with the world
beyond our shores.
P.S. If a Democratic candidate for national
office said what Palin said, I'd write the