The title of this post comes from Alfred Lord Tennyson! Suiting, no?
Crossing the Bar is one of my favorite poems and I think it deserves a place at the front of my mind now more than ever. I may not meet my Pilot or move on to a seaman’s afterlife, but this trip to London is not a vacation, it is a voyage and a task that I must undertake.
A number of peers and relatives have asked, “Why London?” And to them I reply “For the people.” I want to experience the people of London and the greater United Kingdom. I want to know their way of life and system of government and likes and fears because they are the precursors to America and they have laid the foundations for Western culture.
How much do I stand to learn from a culture that lacks the romanticism and cultural distancing of a place like Tanzania or Qatar? A lot, I would argue. For within London alone, there are numerous microcosms of India, Pakistan, China, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, to name a few.
Why London? For convenient one-stop cultural shopping. Whether emigrants or staunch representatives of an assimilated nation, there are people in London whose identity goes far beyond a Londoner, a citizen of the Crown, or even a second or third generation immigrant and I will find as many people as I can and ask them about Cricket and sit with them in pubs and develop a suitably vibrant picture of our closest national cousins. And I will drink much tea.
As I leave, anti-interventionist sentiments have reached a new high and brave men and women have lost their lives. People ask “Aren’t you afraid to travel as an American?” And I say no, for I do not travel as an American, but as a citizen of the world.
See you on the other side.