Tuesday, July 18, 2006

In the Middle East

Until a few days ago, the current Middle East crisis was an unknown. In the Outback, television was a rarity; the only one I saw was tuned to sports. The last newspaper I saw was filled with details of the wedding of South Australia’s premier (that would be the governor) to a woman named Sasha. (Never did catch his name.)

It’s an eerie thing to learn that while your head was turned, the world has fallen into disarray. News broadcasts here are filled with stories of Australians being evacuated from Lebanon on buses, airplanes…however they can get out. My friend who lives in Tel Aviv; is she OK? An acquaintance from Lebanon; how is her family? What echo will bounce from this crisis to affect us all in the weeks, months, decade to come?

One of the gifts of travel is learning how connected we all are, one person to the next, one nation to the next. The woman in the Barossa Valley worries about the effect her long work hours are having on her children; the host at the eco-resort on Kangaroo Island is worried about the health of his business. In some countries, the people I meet wonder about the very basics of survival; others are concerned with equal opportunities for minorities.

Often, wherever I am, the subject turns to politics. Few people seem all that thrilled with the actions of their particular governments. You have to wonder what the people of Israel, Lebanon and Palestine are thinking now.

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