Friday, December 16, 2016

Don't turn your back on experience

My father's career was in the international oil industry and I grew up around the world, wherever there was oil or the hope of discovering oil. I was born in the US but was two months old when I made my first international flight, to Venezuela where we lived for another four years.

Living in countries with track records of civil unrest, autocracy, dictatorships, mob-rule, xenophobia, revolutions and coups, there was always the real prospect of trouble and the possible need for emergency evacuations. My father was a red-blooded American but also an engineer and a pragmatist. One of the lessons drummed in to us from an early age was that while the American Embassy in any particular country might look big and imposing, as an American citizen you could not count on assistance from the Embassy. You had to have your own Plan A (and B and C) because the Embassy was unlikely to be willing or able to help you. If you had to seek help, go to the British, Canadian or Swiss Embassies.

As a child, that seemed demeaning of America though I sort of understood that that there were constraints on a big country that might not apply to a smaller one. I didn't like the implications of the advice but I knew it came from experience.

My father is no longer with us but I thought of him today, and imagined his smile, when I saw this alert from the State Department.

Some things just don't change.

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