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A Notebook From 2016

I carry a notebook with me almost everywhere I go. I see each one filled as a new chapter completed. This one began in Nepal and ended in the US with the election. Here are some excerpts…

What is life?

Life is the capacity for growth. It is our ability and desire to improve. It is physical and intellectual, but what makes humans special, what makes humanity extraordinary is when we strive to grow our minds. Life is a classroom.

[complaining about working out some logistics for a couple of stories in Nepal]

But, actually, if I could go back five years and see this situation I would be overjoyed. I’m doing journalism, on my own terms, on important subjects, in major publications, to help fund a year in Asia. This is a dream. A dream realized.

Today I was vulnerable, and, for the umpteenth time, a stranger in a foreign land helped me. This is why I travel, not to see waterfalls or spend money, but to know the kindness of humanity.

Too often we believe the lie that just beyond the confines of familiarity lurks a darker version of humanity; that in the places we have never been savages stalk. Travel smashes that myth. The more I travel and interact with people different from me the more I understand the world as a place to cherish, not fear.

Travel makes me a rebel. It helps me see through the narrative that whatever its faults the status quo acts as an invisible framework that holds back the savagery beyond. It helps me see almost any demonization or another group or push for war as nearly pure propaganda. I travel because the world is far more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Resist!

I’ve never wanted anything more but I never knew this could be the chore that ruined everything I had before but as I lay in wait, as I sit and contemplate, I realize that for ever more this will kill my soul, suffocate my core. Still I move, still I march it’s too late to simply watch.

America is

A land that champions democracy

but supports coups and dictatorships

A land that proudly calls itself the home of the free

but has the highest prison population on earth

A country that idolizes the phrase free speech

but gets upset when you use it

A country that imagines free protest as a cornerstone of a functional democracy

but requires permission to show dissent

A nation that chastises individuals on welfare for taking advantage of the state

but admires corporations when they do it on a mass scale

A nation that thinks it knows what’s best for the world

but knows so little about the places beyond its borders

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