From the Editor

John Turner

On Thursday, I’ll be home again after having been away more than forty days. I’ll be glad to be there. I don’t want to be so non-adventurous as never to go away from home. But, on the other hand, I must admit that being at home gives me a sense of meaningfulness and productivity that I have nowhere else.

From an editor’s point of view, however, travel offers proof that where you are has strong influence on how you think. If I lived most of the time in Los Angeles, or in central Florida, I would begin to have opinions different from the ones that come to me residing in a small Vermont town. I need to keep that in mind as I fulminate against those who have a different view of the world from my own.

One opinion that travel reinforces --which I think I have expressed on this page before -- is that those who speak of America as a unity are lost in fantasy. Though there are similarities throughout the nation, provided primarily by national retailers, the cultural and educational differences outweigh them. Montpelier, for example, is less like Bowling Green, Florida than it is like a small town in Somerset or Wiltshire in England. I don’t know, for sure, whether that’s to be celebrated or regretted. But if I were forced to say, I suppose I would pick diversity over unity.

I wish I could tell you the most striking lesson I’ve learned on this trip. But now they have all swirled together like stew in a pot. An old lesson learned long ago is probably most in my mind now: though staying in hotels and eating in restaurants can seem glorious at the beginning of the trip, their glamour fades mightily after about a week. And that’s true regardless of how luxurious or epicurean they are. So, as the holiday season approaches, I invite you all to look afresh at your favorite chairs, your beds, and the nooks you like to curl up in at your own abode. Truth is, in most cases, the world offers nothing to rival them.

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Harvard Square Commentary, December 4, 2006