New York, New York

Still she beckons

She’s from a small village in Transylvania, working in radio now, in the largest city in the country.

She is shy but confident, eager to learn and understand. She taught herself English by watching music videos on MTV and googling definitions. She laughs about that now, when I tell her how good her English is.

We, here in America, tend to see ourselves as the center of the universe, the natural leader, or as part of something for which we feel the need to apologize when we interact with the rest of the world.

Perhaps because I was raised abroad, worked abroad for so many years in so many different countries, or perhaps just because of my personality, neither has ever occurred to me.

Conversion has never been my aim.

It’s always been belief.

So when she told me her dream, still, is to visit New York, I wished I could make it happen for her right now while the dream is so bright.


It’s easy to forget what we represent, so loud is the rancor of our own internal political rift. We, as a country, are neither as good nor as evil as the extremes would have us portrayed. But we are still a symbol of what can be.

It is worth remembering that for much of the world, even today, especially today, America is the hope that is clung to in the darkness. We are still the bright, shining city on the hill, hearts open, arms outstretched to all who believe.

When Syrian families just like yours and mine are being bombed and starved by their own government, America is seen as the savior. When earthquakes and typhoons lay waste to their lands, America is seen as rescuer, comforter, and provider.

Gratitude for the serendipity of the country of your birth — America — is never wasted time.

And a gentle reminder that perhaps you are America to someone not from our nation. You may be the only personal part of America they ever meet.

It’s an awesome responsibility.

I’m speaking of hope and belief.

Land of the free still seems as powerful an idea as when it was first proclaimed.