My friend Thomas lives in Ethiopia. He sends me photos now and then of that beautiful African country. When my wife and I recently watched the film “Lamb,” filmed in Ethiopia with indigenous actors, we thought of Thomas. The landscape was incredible; the struggle of the people living close to the land was an education.
Thomas, a graduate of Addis Ababa University, connected with me through my writings and our mutual love of the natural world as our teacher. At his request, I sent him my book on John Muir and a pair of binoculars since he enjoys studying birds.
For Thomas, his country, Ethiopia, is his homeland. . .Ethiopia is “First” for him, as America may be “First” for many here.
But what really makes a country, a nation, even a people, “great”?
As a reminder, here’s a bit of wisdom from Robert Green Ingersoll.
“It has been a favorite idea with me that our forefathers were educated by Nature, that they grew grand as the continent upon which they landed; that the great rivers–the wide plains–the splendid lakes–the lonely forests–the sublime mountains–that all these things stole into and became a part of their being, and they grew great as the country in which they lived.” (Centennial Oration, Peoria, Illinois, July 4, 1876)