It’s a smaller world – Part 1

by Alan Noble on October 24, 2013

Editor’s Note: I’ve asked my friend Alan Noble to share some of his experience of living in Nairobi, Kenya. Alan and I worked together years ago at World Vision, the international Christian relief and development organization where Alan still is employed. This is the first of three parts.

Airplane Wing and Clouds

How does one write about an event that is both tragic and life-changing—especially if it is being written for someone else’s blog? The best approach, it seems, is to ease in slowly, delicately. So, here goes.

When my son, Kyle, was young I shared a set of Seattle Seahawks season tickets with a colleague. The seats were located in the “nose-bleed” section: second to the last row, back corner of the end zone, at the top of the Kingdome. It was a long way up. Carrying food, seat cushions, drinks, backpacks. It really was a long, long way up.

Even if it was a long, long, long way up, it was awesome—every game. Win or lose (and they often lost), it was a great time, shared together. Kyle wanted to be a football player because of those games. I resolved never to let him play football because of those games. We still discuss that conflict periodically. Kyle is mostly happy that I prevailed, especially since he now knows what a concussion feels like—twice!

Spring forward a dozen years, and those memories still remain—sitting with my son, eating hot dogs, sometimes even seeing the Seahawks move the ball in the right direction. Enjoying the moments together. Missing the opportunities to experience those moments again.

You see, Kyle is married and now lives in North Carolina. I live in Nairobi, Kenya where my work has now taken me. Two points on the map, two continents. Yet, though many miles separate us, we find that it is a small world.

Modern travel has shown us this new reality. In a very short time, one can fly for a few hours and arrive halfway around the world to see a family member, discover a deserted beach, visit a famed museum—or click on a website or a TV button and enjoy English Premier football, sample a selection of island homes for purchase, or arrange for your next travel adventure. And like Kyle and me, one can even experience technological advances like Skype and Google Hangouts, or relatively cheap phone call rates, that enable us to stay connected—almost as if we were next door or down the hall.

In the small world in which we live, the advances in travel and technology have effectively eliminated the reality of distance and accelerated the pace of communication. I like both travel and technology. But for all the positives they bring, advances aren’t always indications of progress. Sometimes advances can lead to abuse and ill will towards others.

I found this out a few weeks ago during the terrorist attack on a mall here in Kenya. It has forever changed how I perceive both travel and technology.

I’ll explain this more next time, but for now, let me leave you with this question: How has access to travel and technology changed the way you view your world?

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