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Syracuse University Magazine (USPS 009-049, ISSN 1065-884X)
Volume 19, Number 1, is an official bulletin of Syracuse University
and is published four times yearly: spring, summer, fall, and Åinter
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With the Global Village
a member of the Global Village, I often find myself playing catch-up.
After all, it can be a time-consuming chore to follow world events,
especially without a coterie of geopolitical consultants, international
relations experts, and multilingual translators available on short
notice. Just when I could actually remember that Hamid Karzai was
Afghanistan’s interim government leader and not a town between Mazar-e-Sharif
and Jalalabad, I reminded myself that this was no time to rest easy
and shirk my duties as a global citizen. Aside from the war on terrorism,
there were plenty of other issues to monitor, such as the threat
of India and Pakistan turning each other into nuclear rubble; and
the Ebola virus rampaging through parts of Africa.
I’m not complaining about the unpredictable pace of world events.
In fact, I consider it a privilege—as much as a responsibility—to
know what’s going on in the world. Oh, sure, there are days when
I wish I was a self-absorbed isolationist, ratcheting on about the
evils of free trade and the splendor of homegrown vegetables. Then,
however, reality sets in, and I remember it’s 2002.
for us, parts of the Global Village seem to have been left behind
in the 18th century. Sure we can pat ourselves on the back for ushering
in this brilliant Age of Information, but loading ourselves up with
gigabytes of trivia and reaping the rewards of the good life don’t
sweep despair, poverty, and ignorance from the shadowed corners
of the globe (or those in our own neighborhoods). As we’ve learned,
ignoring such conditions can leave the door open for extremists
to enter and exert their own twisted takes on reality. Not every
destitute person in the developing world turns into a suicide bomber.
But, as two experts note in the feature article
“Time for Action” by Margaret Costello, disparities in wealth
and access to resources can lead the disenfranchised to terrorism
and violence. As you’ll see in the article, one benefit of our fight
against terrorism is that we have created an unprecedented opportunity
to capitalize on the cooperation among civilized nations. It’s a
blue-sky thought, but we must hope this cooperation will lead to
a world that’s more respectful of human rights and more active in
its quest to rid poor countries of deadly diseases and improve their
Thinking with this international mindset reminds me of my first
journey abroad. I was a 14-year-old member of a western New York
State wrestling team that traveled to Colombia and Venezuela for
what was called a “cultural exchange.” Though I had never flown,
spoke no Spanish, and had only a vague idea of where I was headed,
it turned into an incredible experience. I remember the friendly
welcomes we received in our travels, the stunning scenery, and—as
a true cultural sacrifice—being served soda in warm bottles. Above
all, though, I remember a face-to-face encounter with a few street
kids in Bogota. They were grimy and barefoot and covered with sores.
They were looking for handouts and got shooed away by our guide.
Until then I’d never had the cold, empty eyes of poverty stare me
in the face. It wasn’t pleasant, but it made me realize how fortunate
I was in a world that has more than its share of misfortune—and
how important it was for me to understand that.