What is America?
I could think of only one way to find the answer.
With a gnawing suspicion that it is not reporters, pundits, and
politicians playing grab ass on cable news shows
nor is it
actors and actresses, musicians and other artistic types tearfully
talking into the camera, I put a lucrative management consulting
business on hold, tossed a tent and a sleeping bag into the back
of a pickup and took off.
I found, through a series of character vignettes, a nation I could
I found my America.
It is the unspectacular but profoundly moving acts of selflessness,
yearning, longing, searching, anger, and grief of ordinary people,
as profiled in the Dispatches section of this site.
From Los Angeles to Ground Zero, I profile a series of fellow citizens
from all walks of life as they struggle with the greatest degree
of uncertainty and insecurity this country has seen in generations.
The shared tragedy of 9/11 provides Americans with an emotional
Rosetta Stone that allows us to share experiences, feelings, and
thoughts that go beyond the surface prejudices and preconceptions
we normally and often unknowingly carry. Simply by broaching the
topic of the Attacks conversations would dive into the realm of
emotional truth, without regard to the social, economic, racial,
cultural, and geographic differences often used as an excuse to
avoid such a connection. Conversations moved rapidly from the trivial
(what we do, where were from) to the profound (how we feel,
what we think, our dreams and aspirations).
Instead of diversity, we celebrated a shared experience. Instead
of a relentless focus on the numerators
Latino, Asian, Liberal, Conservative, Christian, Jewish, Muslim,
we embraced the common denominator. Though
we may have surface differences, though we may have significant
philosophical and cultural differences, we embraced our shared American-ness.
That is the gift of this journey.