I've prepared for my upcoming trip to France by following French television on satellite, listening and absorbing, testing myself by translating for my hubby who speaks no other language but his mother tongue, WesterEnglish, English redux, all affirmations, negations and abbreviations.
The Europeans' handling of political discourse, pitting the history of Western Thought against Thought-redux of modern media personalities, utilizes history in all its complexities to understand present dilemmas. The palaces and the castles of yesteryear right outside their windows must help them maintain a sense of proportion every time they come up with a new thought.
"What would Descartes make of this?"
In America, we tend to retreat to the Maverick myth, the lone cowboy on the frozen Rockies, heading for cover.
But, we are no longer lone cowboys. We no longer hunt Moose to survive. Our guns and rifles are not necessary tools. We communicate across the globe; smog and tinted products affect us all equally. To have modern cultural literacy, we cannot pretend the world doesn't exist, don our rifles and disappear in the Rockies or the Cascades for weeks of hunting and camping.
Once, America didn't have to shout, "WE are the Greatest Country on Earth." Its actions and can do spirit were valued and imitated across the Globe. Once, we were the standard bearers for leadership, vigor, and integrity.
What we need is to travel again, see the world, follow other routes to enlightenement, discover the complexities of the world we share and must preserve.
We'll experience museums, palaces and vinyards. We'll stop in libraries, concert halls and restaurants where sights, sounds and tastes will make us appreciate the achievement of civilizations before us.