Welcome Home

January 21, 2008

After almost three weeks of traveling through India and 35 hours of transit getting back, I was ready to come home. Surprisingly, I found myself missing very little of my treasured New York lifestyle. Though not necessarily in this order, I missed long hot showers (of course), my family and friends, Sarah, potable water, playing chess, fast and available Internet, my guitar, and good wine. But other than that, I missed almost none of the other American accoutrements.

It was the most patriotic I've ever felt walking through customs and hearing the burly customs officer say in his thick Brooklyn accent, "welcome home." Never before have I felt the value of U.S. citizenship, what that means to the rest of the world, and the extensive resources that my country has as its disposal should it ever need to find me in some compromising situation abroad. Although I have always been down on the spirit of capitalism that pervades this country, going to India very much reminded me that it was business that shaped modern life and the comfortable middle class in which I was raised. My biggest complaint about capitalism is that it seems largely devoid of altruism or certainly mechanisms which inspire successful corporations to be altruistic . Our system is balanced by competition that we engender, rather than any sense of obligation to social parity. But it has made me think that becoming financially successful is the best way to help other people and make some sort of marked impact on the world. Whether I have the tenacity or taste to do that, is another blog post.

For the first time, New York seems quiet. And clean. The car lanes are luxuriously wide and cab drivers amble over the highways gently in blissful reverie. The sidewalks seem devoid of people and the peace and quiet facilitates my post-travel introspection. I am still haunted by those small faces that looked up at me with such devastatingly beautiful eyes pleading for a little help. I don't know what to do with that. Except to maybe understand my small place in the vast world a little more clearly and what makes life essentially valuable.