I arrived in Hilo on Wednesday night, sans luggage--Joe, we shouldn't have stopped for Subway, the check-in line for baggage was long--and greeted by humidity that does funny things to women's hair. Rain pours down on the isles of Hawaii continually, moving, constantly shifting its target. I am reminded of Seattle, and the comparison is apt, aside from the tropical forests all around me. I truly feel as if I am in a foreign land.
And I am. This is one of the 50 states in the union. Each state a sovereign entity, each a government, a being of its own, within the larger federal union. Since arriving here I have been struck by this fact: we live in a union of states, each of which could be a separate nation, with its own legislative, executive, judicial branches. Yet, in order to form a more perfect union, these 50 states are joined into one nation, the greatest nation on earth at this moment. This train of thought has probably been brought on by Tom Wolfe's wonderful book Hooking Up, which I finished on my flight over. Here's a bit of his terrific prose, on the place of the US in 2000:
Indirectly, subconsciously, [the average electrician, air-conditioning mechanic, or burglar-alarm repairman's view of the world] had to do with the fact that his own country, the United States, was now the mightiest power on earth, as omnipotent ass Macedon under Alexander the Great, Rome under Julius Caesar, Mongolia under Genghis Khan, Turkey under Mohammed II, or Britain under Queen Victoria. His country was so powerful, it had begun to invade or rain missiles upon small nations in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean for no other reason than that their leaders were lording it over their subjects at home.Wonderful stuff. Pictures to come.