I don't feel like I'm away. I live in a nice house in a nice setting, walk on tree-lined streets to a new faculty building, and then spend the evening at a place which is hundreds of years old.
This morning, while working to improve my knowledge of linguistic history/theory, I came across the poem enscribed upon the Statue of Liberty.
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
I cried. Where have we lost our way, we Americans? At what point did the dream of America the Beautiful disappear? When did we give up? Or did we err when we lost the spirit of the statesman, when we, the descendants of the tempest-tost decided to close the golden door of generosity in order to continue a dedication to personal gain?
I am living in a system designed to separate people, designed to convince them they are important, where argument and assertion are more valuable than questions. Some days, I long for the open arms and golden doors of my homeland. But in our time, the arms are cold, hard, rigid. The glowing hearth which shone behind the door has been replaced by a gilt facade with no knocker.
Our ascendance as a superpower now leaves us wondering what to do next, even as we undermine our great initiative through short-term chess. The politics of problem solving and electioneering pragmatics have stripped us of vision; of ideas which help us see ourselves and our purpose in a new light, ideas which transform *and* motivate us. But maybe it's no longer possible in a pluralistic society. Maybe we are so busy talking we forget to listen.
Why are all the idealists only angry and cynical? What have we done to ourselves? Is there no way forward?
Each day at Cambridge is a treasurebox; I have inadequate hands, my discipline is weak, and my satchel far too small. Pray that my days be filled with wisdom, discipline in excellence, a sharp mind, and warm generosity.