Understanding and explaining ‘global perspectives’ is a vital part of what we do, and being in Rome and London gave me a new sense of cultural anchor points to people around the world. While many events and places that have great meaning in one culture (even a dominant culture) often have little impact elsewhere, there are a few things in Europe that are embued with meaning for many, many people (though not everyone). I’ve seen two this week, the Colosseum in Rome and the clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, south London. There were people from around the world in each place, and I wish I’d had a chance to talk to some about why they were there, what that place meant to them. It’d be interesting, too, to find out what places in the U.S. actually have significance to people elsewhere. The Statue of Liberty or the United Nations? Disneyland or Yosemite?
The other parallel between Rome and Greenwich is that each was, in its time, in its world, the centerpoint. (The center of Rome, and once of the Roman Empire, is a spot in a courtyard on one of the Roman hills, a location from which all roads, in that world, ran.)