For those of you have not read me for years, I love traveling to conflict zones.
I’ve been to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia purely for the sake of going.
Mom, if you’re reading now, time to close the window.
On my mind is a trip to Syria and a trip to North Korea.
Did you know that Four Seasons is still operating a hotel in Damascus? I want to write a story on what it is like to work for a five-star hotel in the capital city of a country embroiled in a six-year civil war.
This September, I want to go to the Wonsan Air Festival in North Korea. I’ve missed out on so many aircraft over the years that a chance to fly on a dozen Soviet aircraft is difficult to pass up.
And the beauty of this: it is my job. I’m not shirking life, reality, or my solemn responsibilities as husband and father. True, I don’t have to do what I do, but I’ve found a way to earn a living doing what I love. Loving your occupation is infectious: imagine me putting in 12 hours at a law firm each day then coming home stressed and exhausted.
But then there are days like today.
I already told you about my terrorism scare in London and now we have learned that 22-year-old Otto Warmbier has died. It’s easy enough to condemn Warmbier for stealing and say actions have consequences, but let’s not kid ourselves. Even if it was him in the grainy video ripping down a propaganda poster, torturing him for months before he fell into a coma and eventually died is a barbarically disproportionate response than should be condemned. We need not respect a savage legal system in furtherance of shallow diplomacy or jejune civility.
To Go or Not to Go?
Two events in the last 24 hours vividly demonstrate that the smallest of bad choices or even just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have life-changing consequences.
I want to go to these places in order to tell the stories of others, better understand the world, provide for my family, and be a peacemaker.
My guilt is not over money: life insurance makes it profitable for me to die. Rather, my tension is over the deep struggle of any work life balance, a struggle over what priorities should truly be.
On 01/01 this year I resolved to fall asleep with my wife each night I am home. For the most part, I’ve kept that resolution. The few nights I’ve worked late have been clearly communicated in advance and purely of necessity.
The currency of love is time, but more time does not necessarily mean more love. If I felt my work was coming at the expense of my family, I would change careers. But I’m not guilty about being away for 1/5 of the year. Remember, my wife supports what I do. She is behind me 100%. Thus, my occupational guilt comes from societal norms and not a genuine need for repentance.
Yet sometimes my perspective is flawed and is certainly inherently biased. So I throw it out to you for discussion. Should I go to North Korea and Syria, especially after what happened today?