FRASER, Col. - Less than a year ago, I thought Guatemala was an island country. I thought Lahore was in India. I had a rough idea of Haiti's whereabouts, though I didn't know it shared a land border with the D.R. I couldn't name a city in Chile.
Now I know Americans who are or who will be posted at these places where natural disasters and civil unrest have wreaked havoc.
I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that in the past, when something like an earthquake would wipe out the capital of an island nation or if a sinkhole swallowed an entire city block in an impoverished country, I would have looked at the photos and videos in brief amazement, and then proceeded to check out how my fantasy baseball team was doing without sparing any additional time dwelling on the catastrophe.
Now I look for articles and reports about what ground zero is like, to see if there is any news about any deaths or injuries to Americans and for a statement from the State Department.
Ignorance was bliss. Not knowing where these places were - let alone someone living there - made it easy to look away. I'm sure that natural and man-made disasters have always been occurring at a similar frequency as now, but now that I'm paying more attention, it seems like hardly a week passes without learning of something else terrible happening somewhere else in a place where I just learned of someone I know arriving for post. (You might have to read that sentence a couple of times, but trust me, it makes sense.)
Consequently, my fantasy baseball team is getting a little tender, love and care, but I'm slowly becoming more of a world citizen instead of mid-Atlantic American. The exposure to fascinating world cultures, cuisine and customs is a huge benefit, but becoming more aware of the world's hardships is more sobering everyday.
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