I have missed you all!
Like the late, great Charles Kuralt, I have been “on the road,” or more accurately, on the plane for 30 hours, more or less. With various layovers, 30 hours is about what it takes to get to southern Africa and another 30 to get home.
And as we all know, there is nothing like sleeping in one’s own bed! Like Kuralt and most other travelers, I learn a great deal everywhere I go from western Europe to east Asia to the bush of southern Africa.
And, like millions of other Americans, I am always grateful to set foot back on United States soil, where I was born, grew up, and raised my own family. Seeing how other people in other places face daily life makes us understand, cherish, and willing to fight for our American freedoms.
The United States is a relatively new country compared to European nations, India, and certainly China. We are older and more experienced, though, than some African nations, many of which divorced themselves from European colonial occupation in the mid-20th century and are still feeling their way. For some, birth and maturation continue to be painful.
Among the joys of traveling in southern Africa are the well-run national parks and game reserves that spotlight, and more importantly, protect Africa’s spectacular wildlife—lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, and the list goes on. Tourism, the area’s most important industry, supports these efforts.
The harder reality is that South Africa and Zimbabwe both have high unemployment rates and, not surprisingly, high rates of crime and homelessness. Government corruption is a pervasive factor.
Kliptown, a squatter community in the city of Johannesburg, stopped me in my tracks.
No government—city or national—provides any service, including electricity and plumbing, to this community of about 45,000 souls.
One positive is an after-school program for local children established by 3 young men who grew up there which received worldwide recognition as a CNN Hero. A California family funded a brand new $2M facility after seeing the news coverage.
Which brings me to Nancy Pelosi.
Love her or loathe her, Nancy Pelosi tells us our system of government works. Pelosi is the first and only woman to become Speaker of the US House of Representatives and third in line to the Presidency.
Her tenure in the house spanned four Presidencies, the Iraq War, the Great Recession, the Affordable Care Act, and the Insurrection which could have taken both her life as well as our nation’s.
Following an unprecedented attack on her elderly husband, Pelosi stepped away from leadership responsibilities, but she has been and remains a highly polarizing figure in American politics.
For more than a decade, she has been demonized by the opposition.
Nancy Pelosi would not know me from Adam’s house cat, but she probably would not be surprised that more than a decade ago when I ran for public office, mailers went out of the two of us photoshopped together as if we were best friends.
The opposition meant this as a negative, but I was flattered.
I mention Pelosi because she is an example of what works in our country despite our deep and pervasive divisions.
The reality that our nation has survived an insurrection and that legislative power is being transferred, however contentiously, tells us that our structure is holding—at least for now.
We got through our mid-term elections with grumbling and disappointments for sure, but candidates are not alleging widespread voter fraud or refusing to accept election outcomes.
Our United States is far from perfect, but we are working on our issues, just as we have been for about 250 years. I am really glad and thankful to be home.