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Raging Pencils by Mike "ManBearPigBull" Stanfill

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Other Mouth's Words

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell

rick stevesLong 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 the subject.

Take it away, Steve:

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 in person.

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 same editorial.

Thanks, Steve.


end rant

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