My youngest daughter Andrea has been struggling for the past fourteen or fifteen months to get a permanent work visa for Australia. Never mind why or how she came to pursue this endeavor, enough to say it is something she really wants to do. She has already "migrated" to Sydney, Australia and is living there on a tourist Visa awaiting final acceptance from the Australian Immigration authorities. Lo and behold three weeks ago she finally received notification that she could pick up her Visa. However she had to do it at an Australian Consulate Office outside of the Country. So----- after dutifully notifying the proper authorities of her itinerary ( as required by them) she flew it New Zealand to pick up the precious document at the Australian Consulate’s office in Auckland. Of course, things did not go as smoothly as one could hope for and I and many other well- wishers waited on pins and needles for word of her final approval. She had worked hard to get this damn thing and no bureaucrat was going to stop her.
I came home from four days in the field today and there was a printed out email message from Andrea. Visa was in hand, success at last. I could not have been happier and wanted to share my feelings with her so I took the chance to dial up her cell number ( we had spoken earlier that week so I knew it was possible to reach her). Again surprise, she answered right away. Where are you I asked, since she sounded out of breath and quite excited. Half way up a volcano on Rangitoto Island, New Zealand. Your kidding was my response. " No really" she quipped, " It’s beautiful today and I’m going to hike to the top". We talked more about the visa, her adventure, and I could hear the excitement in her voice and almost smell the fresh air of the mountain. "What a world". I told her. "I’m talking to you half way across the world while you climb a volcano. These are marvelous times". I felt a real sense of wonder and hope at what is possible with technology.
I was reminded of another time when the marvel of modern technology filled me with awe and hope. It was the middle of the cold war and pall of nuclear annihilation seemed to always hang in the background. But on one magic day, I sat with my seventyish year old grandmother in our living room and watched live, grainy TV images of Neil Armstrongs’ walk on the moon. What marvelous time and what an appropriate person to be with. This woman who in her life time had seen so much change. Airplanes, cars, TV, so much technology in such a short time. We both felt and shared a sense of awe and wonder and hope. Of course, the wonder and awe was short lived and as a Nation we soon became blasé about all the wondrous things that NASA was up to, and Viet Nam came along, and Nixon sold out the White House. etc., etc.,
And the hope faded ------------.
I finished the call and still felt elated not only at Andrea’s success and the start of a new chapter in her life, but just for a while I was hopeful with this techno world and the future it might bring. I decided to sit down with the Seattle P.I. and catch up on the news. Within three pages I had read : how the USS Lincoln rather than enter port had steamed for over 20 hours just off the San Diego coast so "W" could make a side show of his arrival on the flight deck. (this is the same guy who went AWOL for over a year from the Texas Air National Guard during the Viet Nam war) And, how the current band of idiots in the Bush administration are proposing that we scrap our treaty commitments and begin new research in and new production of nuclear arms thus thumbing our nose at the world, spending billions more dollars, and re-opening the madness that was the nuclear arms race. etc., etc.
And the hope faded----------------