Standing on the edge of history

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on the edge of the world

Picture yourself at the moment of a historical transformation. You may remember the experience vividly.

In my (old) generation, it was the Kennedy assassination. A bit later – 9/11.

Personally, my biggest transformation occurred through a series of conscious decisions, which led me to Africa in April, 1980, as I observed the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

I certainly experienced many civics lessons. This story combined racism and nationalism, and I was there first-hand as a young Canadian who had managed to scam the Rhodesian government into giving a liberal lefty a work permit marked “journalist”.

I wasn’t so liberal lefty at the end of my 18-month experience — because I could appreciate the importance of individual responsibility and the fact that it rarely helps to blame others for our problems.

Today, there are other events, moments, history-shaping instances. Most of the time, we live through them because they happen, regardless of anything we do.

I think there are real advantages, however, to engage and discover a way to put yourself into history — bringing it alive with your own experience, perspective, and education.

I’m writing this note from White Plains, NY, a couple of days before heading half-way around the world to Singapore.

It’s a personal trip; an opportunity to share the 25th anniversary with my wife. But I know the experience will broaden my perceptions and awareness and help to make the world just a little bit smaller.

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