Pope John Paul The Great used to kiss the ground of the tarmac as soon as he deplaned in a foreign nation.
My fellow Americans, I ask you to go outside, brush away whatever snow is on the ground, and gratefully kiss the soil of this great republic.
Because of the opportunities and high standard of living in the good old USA, we should press our lips against the terra firma of our own native land.
I just returned from a trip to India.
It is impossible in this single column to list all the ways in which this burgeoning economic powerhouse differs from the United States. Here are a few.
First of all, the distance between the haves and the have-nots is measured in light years in India. The most impoverished Americans live a lifestyle that might be considered decadent in India.
People of wealth in India avert their eyes from small children wandering around naked in streets where pre-teens consider prostitution as a viable and frequently pursued alternative to starvation.
The poorest neighborhoods of Cleveland do not generate the suffocating sense of hopelessness that surrounds you in the squalid ghettos of Calcutta or Delhi.
Mother Theresa wanted to serve where mankind suffered the most. She chose India.
The infrastructure remains virtually nonexistent.
There is no such thing as trash pickup day. You empty the garbage can in the street or in a field where desperate human scavengers recover shreds of things of infinitesimal value and wandering dogs or monkeys take care of the rest.
Sanitary sewage is dumped into the Ganges River, where millions of poor Indians pick up diseases like cholera and dysentery. The Ganges has religious significance to most of the Indian population but I must tell you that the Cuyahoga River is like Perrier when compared to the disgusting waters of the Ganges.
Electricity is very unreliable, even in the big cities. If you desire electric service, you don't make a phone call to CEI. You pay some kid to shimmy up a telephone pole and splice into the existing power line on your street.
That's the way everybody gets electrical service. You never have a bill.
Hot water? Maybe. But don't count on it. No luxurious showers. Just get used to it.
Despite all of these problems, the Indian financial sector is growing even faster than its population. And that's saying something, considering that this nation of 1 billion people produces a new child every second and will soon surpass China in total population.
The economy is growing at a brisk pace because reliable Indian laborers will work long hours at a very inexpensive rate.
It's funny how abject poverty will motivate you to toil diligently on behalf of an American computer company that has outsourced its customer service center to India.
Hopefully the standard of living for all citizens of India will improve as their economy continues to grow. And I hate to see this expansion occur at the cost of American jobs.
Mahatma Gandhi led a peaceful revolt that forced the British to allow Indian citizens to govern themselves.
It's now time for the Indian government to harness the economic growth to lift its citizens so that everyone can live in dignity with decent housing, nutrition, health care, and freedom from exploitation.
In the meantime, we as Americans should realize what we have and thank Almighty God for the blessings we take for granted everyday.
So brush away that snow and give a kiss to this great land.
The land of the untouchables has shown me that we live in a fantastic country.