I’m looking up at this world map on my wall which is sponsored by a medical group that likes to travel and apparently does God’s work. The quote at the top of the poster reads, “We find out where conditions are the worst, the places where others are not going, and that’s where we want to be.” Fair enough. But how did they find where they wanted to be with this tiny map? I was trying to pin-point a couple of remote towns in the Middle East and could barely find the countries that fall between the Mediterranean, Red, and Black Sea. Just now glancing at it again to ensure my description of the geography was accurate I had to refer to the other map here which dates all the way back to the year 2004 — no doubt an outdated relic now that serves as a wealth of misinformation. I must use it however because one needs better than 20/20 vision to see that other tiny pea which has reduced earth to the size of one of those water-globes which encase a Winter Wonderland scene. Is this how “Doctors Without Borders” views the world? Have they reduced us to the size of ants in order to work up enough gall to proclaim that they’re the only civilized bunch who are willing to take on the grim diseases which still plague the third world? It starts to make sense if you ponder it long enough. How else could you take on such a task?
Conversely, how do those cultured, first-world travelers think about the spatial dimensions of our planet? Those old-money folks who have no more pressing business than to wonder what’s going on in Budapest at this hour, or how they would be lunching in Rome or Marseille? I can’t see how they could form such a grand notion of the world to be something they could fold up and tuck in their pocket for good measure. Those people need GLOBES: something that stands in the middle of the room and takes up half its living space so they can at least can say they never got bored looking at it, and if they ever did they could always close their eyes and place their finger wherever they feel like and spin the ball around until it finally stops. They can then go on making plans to visit whatever enchanting land that they are destined to see next.
That’s the kind of layout of the World I need. I don’t mean that I need to go to some country I’ve never heard of on the other side of the planet. I just want to see the whole thing in a proper Perspective. At least my U.S. map does me some justice. While the state lines are dull and incomplete, it shows me how I can get to wherever I may want to go on the North American continent via interstate highway. And I know what the terrain will roughly look like when I get there thanks to its topographical feature. You can also fold this map into your pocket, but not as handily as the Doctor’s layout of the world. No matter though because this is a general outline, and I would never have a reason to put it in my pocket. It’s plastered to the wall and it will stay there for me to gaze at and dream of where — in this country — I want to go next.