Take a Vacation and Become Optimistic

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    By Pat Sajak, July 5, 2005

    I’ve recently returned from an extended European vacation which included a virtually total information blackout. I carried no computer and no cell phone; I made a concerted effort to stay away from television and newspapers; and there were no political discussions, even in France. (The people there were so nice, I had almost forgotten a friend’s advice upon my departure: “Be sure to drive on the left side in England. Do that in France, too, because you’ll run over more French.”)

    I’m afraid I had lost sight of what a real vacation was supposed to be and how much tougher the Information Age has made it to really experience one. Most of us have succumbed to the notion we simply cannot afford to be away from phones and emails even for a few hours. One of the insidious results of creeping technology has been to convince us because something is possible, it is necessary. We have grown these electronic appendages and can’t seem to live without them. It’ll be a while before I forget the sight of Venetian gondoliers on cell phones!

    However, this strange juxtaposition of my information cut-off, while being surrounded by growing signs of a connected world, resulted in a long-absent feeling upon my return: optimism. It’s something I hadn’t felt in years. Optimism about the world and my kids and their futures. It’s something 9/11 had knocked out of me. It’s something the daily drumbeat of 24-hour news channels had kept me from feeling. How could we survive in this world where everyone hates us, and everyone is out to get us?

    Well, it turns out everyone doesn’t hate us. Most people are too busy taking care of their families, working or shopping to care much one way or the other. Without the prisms of CNN and “The Twin Times” of New York and Los Angeles to remind me of how terrible a country we live in and how despised we are, I had to rely on real people and actual events to show me the world, and it seemed to be a much more hospitable place.

    As for the “wired” gondoliers, even they fueled the optimism. It's becoming more and more difficult to keep a society in darkness. As that tool of dictatorships and despots and thugs is taken away, it will become impossible to hold the next generation in check. As people-to-people communication seeps into places like North Korea, goofballs such as Kim Jong Il will find it harder to convince people they are world-class athletes or brilliant scholars. It will be harder for terrorists to justify their means. And, yes, it will be harder to portray America as Satan incarnate.

    There will be very tough times in the short-term future, as the wounded beasts of terror and tyranny strike to try to hold back the tide. But, if we can get over that hump, and continue to champion freedom and democracy in the world, the word will spread. It will find its way into all the shadowy corners of the earth, and the forces of light will prevail over the forces of darkness. Optimism. It feels good.


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