As I write, it is Sunday, July 17, and we are just past the mid point on our journey. When I compare this trip to our around-the-world-no-airplanes trip of last year, the thing that stands out most is what is going on in the world around us. During that four-month journey, I can’t recall any news of extraordinary significance. In the past month, here are the news headlines: Brexit, police killings by white officers of unarmed black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, the killing of five police officers by a black army veteran in Dallas, two more police killings today in Baton Rouge, the Paris truck massacre, and the failed coup in Turkey. On top of that, we are engaged in what may turn out to be the nastiest and also the most significant presidential race in our nation’s history with many people expressing dislike for both candidates. In our travel bubble we have missed some of the shocking headlines; but as a news junky, I can’t help reading the Post and the NY Times on line and certainly get the gist. At times I confess that I even feel a little guilty about being removed from the action, not that there is anything that I could be doing to help.
The contrast is what gets you. On the Road Trip and on our around-the-world -adventure last year, we see a country–and a world– that is beautiful and vast and–I believe–basically good. I know that our country and our world have certainly been good to Embry and me. I also know that the “good experience” is not evenly distributed and that many are hurting. The stakes seem to be so high right now. There is so much that is beautiful and good; but if we can’t somehow make this planet we inhabit more equitable, the whole world will pay a big price. In the U.S. it is as if we have the option of celebrating our diversity while acknowledging our failures (slavery, Jim Crow, race and social class, greed and excess) and moving on to make things better, or the option of turning back to the dark side of human nature, to tribalism, authoritarianism, and violence. Let us hope and pray that we can somehow muddle through and choose the former.