My little corner of the world is a place named Brentwood, California. We’re not talking OJ’s Brentwood here, but rather what was, not too long ago, a small, mostly agricultural town on the San Joaquin River Delta. As it happens, the construction boom of the past decade has permanently changed all that. With a rate of growth that led the State from time to time, we now have a population pushing 60,000 and enjoy all the good and bad that goes with it.
Set at the eastern boundary of Contra Costa County, Brentwood is located in what’s referred to as the “Far East County.” Although technically a part of the San Francisco Bay Area, the city actually covers 12 square miles of California’s Central Valley. A farming community turned suburban, we do still retain some of our rural roots and a hint of the small town charm, but for the most part, Brentwood is Suburbia, USA.
Of course the very specific “where” of the towns we live in is just a small part of the big “where” that affects our lives. Living in the San Francisco area certainly has its impact on life in Brentwood, as does the fact that we’re in California. If nothing else, the cost of living is higher here than in most places; the climate is typically nice; there are many picturesque destinations within easy driving distance; there’s an abundance of things to do, and the political climate, well like I said, it is the Bay Area . . .
The truth is that California has its problems, but I’m still proud to call it home. I’ve lived in other places and visited elsewhere still, but I always come back.
Yet even the State doesn’t tell the whole story, not even close. This is the United States of America — Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. It’s also the land of banks gone wild, manufacturing gone overseas, healthcare (and other) costs gone out of site, jobs gone away, home values just gone, and a government that can’t get going.
And just like California, I still believe there’s no better place to live. The good old USA is faced with serious problems on several fronts, and I often question our ability to solve them. But where my belief in our government falters, my faith in our people remains constant. Americans, as a people, believe in the spirit that founded our nation. They accept that all people are created equal, and in the end truly want to do the right thing. I am proud to be an American.
But “where” doesn’t end with a country, or even a continent or hemisphere. No, our lives are increasingly shaped by our place in the galaxy, by the fact that we’re all inhabitants of a planet we call Earth. As Thomas Friedman wrote, “The World is Flat,” and it’s not just the economies. Global issues abound, and their significance for all humanity grows with each passing day.
So that’s it, fellow Earthling. You and I may both be able to pack up and leave our home town, even our state. We can jump through the hoops and immigrate if we so choose, but we’re pretty much stuck here on this planet. Planet Earth, the beautiful blue planet, third stone from the Sun — the “where” stops here.
We are all in this together, and we better learn how to make it work.