Challenging Journeys

On a warm July day in California, it’s a stretch to imagine the November morning nearly 400 years ago when a ragtag band of weary travelers on a ship off the tip of Cape Cod devised an agreement for their new settlement. That it was cool and rainy last month when I visited the site made visualizing the original scene somewhat easier, but I still had trouble picturing the pristine vista that must have greeted the passengers of the Mayflower after a journey even more arduous and fraught with risk than that faced by hopeful immigrants arriving today.

You’re probably thinking that I’m confused. Everyone knows the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, right? Actually, it didn’t. Provincetown, which appropriately has continued as a bastion of edgy thinkers and life adventurers, was the pilgrims’ initial landing point. And it’s still a beautiful place to land, if only for a few days.

Several particulars of the early settlers’ original governing agreement, the Mayflower Compact, seem appropriate to ponder as we celebrate the 4th of July. The first: that they were, essentially, missionaries. In the 200-word agreement (that mentions God four times), the pilgrims specifically stated that their goals included the “advancement of the Christian faith.” Like it or not, our nation’s roots are Christian. (An argument could be made that we could now replace the word “God” with the word “oil” or “money,” but I won’t digress.)

Secondly, they agreed to have “just and equal laws” that looked out for the “general good of the colony.” It isn’t stated, but this dictum clearly applied only to men—not a single woman signed the original document. So right from the start, we opted for a society that benefited some of us more than others. Years later, some drafters of the Constitution—a document endorsing that same general good—were slave owners.

We’ve always been a people of contradiction. Fortunately our society is full of bold individuals dedicated to reminding us of this. One of the most notable is writer Greg Palast, whose new book, Armed Madhouse, we excerpt in this issue (pg. 38). Palast’s relentless political reporting, particularly on the matter of our dangerously flawed voting system, is like a cool fountain on a broiling hot day. If you’ve had lingering doubts about paper trails and hacked systems, you’ll find information here that the mainstream media has largely overlooked. With our favorite morning talk show host poised to commandeer the evening news, and continued layoffs of print media journalists, we need reporters like Palast to unearth and share important information.

If one of the Mayflower passengers could time travel to 2006, s/he would surely be shocked at the view from my new window on Sunset Boulevard. Yes, WLT has forsaken its long-time Malibu retreat and moved into the heart of the action. But while I don’t enjoy the rigors of my new commute (which still pale compared to a trans-Atlantic voyage or a foot-journey across desert ravines), I’m enjoying the bustle of Hollywood and the plethora of lunch options. Happily, we also have a view of the Hollywood Hills, so we still feel some connection with the earth.

We were thrilled at the number of people who responded to our June issue, the first in our new format and design. Your feedback is crucial, so please keep those cards and letters coming. We don’t care where the postmark is from, but you might want to tear out page 44 of this issue if you’re going to be traveling there by air. We can’t put the fun back in plane travel, but our Spa in the Sky story offers suggestions that will at least make it more comfortable.

From my heart,
Abigail Lewis

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