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Research on the road

Didn’t have time to post this as I rushed for the train to Leipzig. More conversations at the conference itself, and I’ll be writing about them as time (and sufficient sleep) allows. From Thursday:

I’m not a chatty traveler, but when people do start conversations with me I seize the opportunity to ask about whatever subject is on my mind, and if they come from countries I don’t know well I’m especially keen to find out what they think of the United States. And, more broadly, what their friends and country’s people are talking about.

Frankfurt, Germany, is my present location, and I am waiting for a train to Leipzig, where I’ll be attending the first European Conference on World and Global History. Thankfully, there’s wireless in Frankfurt—as there was at Heathrow, in London, but was not at the international terminal at JFK in New York.

The man who shared my table at the airport restaurant was a headmaster from Sweden, and he broached the topic of New Orleans delicately, “You are having some problems in your country.”

As we talked, he brought up several of the subjects that seem most pertinent when we look at global perspectives on the United States: pollution, money, and guns. We don’t care enough about the environment—or we pay it lip service, and let financial concerns override our claims to care about the world we leave for our children. And we let people buy automatic guns. I found it especially interesting that my Swedish companion was a hunter, and he had just bought a little backpack for his new grandson with family hunting trips in mind. So the issue isn’t guns in general–as it was for my Green feminist colleagues in London, who were horrified by Tom’s passionate display of the Lego gun he had made, at age 3—but guns inappropriate.

And it’s a good thing our president does not read newspapers. The things the conservative British press has to say about him amaze me a little. ‘Mad and bad’ was the gist of what I saw in the papers I scooped up as I passed through Heathrow.

By | 2005-09-24T03:27:20+00:00 September 24th, 2005|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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