On a rainy, London morning, I sit quietly in my tiny, Bloomsbury flat, immersed in a neighborhood that is steeped in intellectual tradition. As an aspiring writer, I admire the mystical towers of Kings Cross Rail Station reminding me of the amazing wizardry of Harry Potter. As a history buff, the massive, British Museum collection is there to display evidence of the evolving greatness of world civilization. As a former professor, I walk near the renowned University of London to observe serious students of many cultures busily pursuing their dreams to pursue academic paths to address the uncertain dilemmas of our modern times. It seems clear that while London has often been ravaged by mass destruction in war, a high standard of excellence remains in the fields of science, education, and literature,
On the surface, one might envision London as a place where its citizenry pays homage to an out of touch, monarchical system governed by unalterable, class distinctions. One might be surprised, then, to know that the city of London recently elected its first, Islamic mayor, Sadiq Khan, to govern a population where over 12% of the population is considered to be of Muslim ethnicity. In a continent that has been continually ravaged by religious strife and war, London voters clearly have learned a lesson from history that an embrace of multiculturalism can be the right choice to manage national security in a dangerously violent world.
As I stumble along cobblestone alleys of Dickens and Darwin, I embrace the authentic feel of old English tradition. Resisting the path of gentrification, small pubs and shops line each street where catchy names – Fuzzy’s Grub, Neal’s Yard Remedies, and Lamb and Flag …provide motivation for me to engage in polite, friendly conversation with local sellers. Pub fare for me today seems suitable. Perhaps a lunch of mushy peas or bangers and mash accompanied by a quick conversation about soccer might suffice now. This might also be the afternoon that I relax for English high tea and an accompanying crumpet.
As our friend in war and peace, Londoners welcome American tourists with open arms. I wonder, however, how much damage to this legacy will take place if the hostile message of Donald Trump, ultimately isolates my country from its allies with his arrogantly defiant ways. Can my country go it alone to learn the lesson of sacrifice that Londoners experienced when Hitler’s invading WWII armies threatened to occupy British homeland? As “Big Ben” rings proudly in the distance now, freedom reigns true here. May I continue to live in a country that will honor this precious right as I return home in these truly irrational times.