I wrote a real doozy of an editor's letter, and then I deleted it.
It was a rant lamely disguised as wistfulness about what life would be like if we lived in a perfect world: More Americans would have passports (and use them); we'd be allowed to go wherever we want, without too much bureaucracy; the problems with airport security would get fixed, and not just for people who pay to join a Registered Traveler program; we'd take better care of the earth; and so on. I even managed to squeeze in some whining about how sunblock makes you shiny (as the photo makes clear).
I ditched it because either you agree with me or you don't. If you do, great; if not, I probably wasn't going to change your mind. The last thing any of us need is more ranting, wistful or otherwise.
All in all, most of us are pretty lucky. If you're like me, you usually forget how lucky you are--and occasionally you get reminded of it.
A few months ago, I went downstairs to grab a cup of coffee in the afternoon, just as I usually do. "See you tomorrow," said the young woman behind the counter after I paid.
"Nope," I said, deviating from our usual script. "I'm going out of town for a few days."
"Take me with you!" she replied.
I stammered some sort of response about how I was going to Iowa, and while I was excited about the trip, perhaps it wasn't the most glamorous destination on earth.
"I've never gone anywhere," she said.
Not long afterward, when Warren Buffett announced that he was giving much of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I began daydreaming about starting the Budget Travel Foundation. (I was on a treadmill, and it was that or watch the cable news blowhards).
Our foundation would send people who've never traveled to places (near and far) where they can interact with other cultures. Simply put, travel brings the world closer together, and what seem like insurmountable differences between countries--or faiths, or economic levels--become much less relevant when people meet face-to-face. It's happened to all of us, I'd wager: Our preconceived notions of a place--and in particular, its people--get blown to bits once we actually venture there.
And in a perfect world, I hope we can agree, our preconceived notions would be the only thing getting blown to bits.