The Internet is the fastest-growing and most powerful communication medium in history. If you exit the information superhighway for a few months, you may not recognize it when you return. The growth rate of the Internet is astounding. It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million homes in this country. Television did the same in 13 years. The Internet has done it in only five years! The World Wide Web (referred to as the WWW or just “the Web”) is doubling its number of websites every six months. To get on the information superhighway, all one needs is a computer, a modem and an Internet service provider. Millions of people visit Cyberspace every day to bank online, pay bills, find a job, buy or sell almost anything (even pizza or groceries), book travel, track a FedEx package, read a magazine, research any topic, find a map to anywhere on Earth, trade stock, locate anyone who has a telephone number or e-mail address, make free international phone calls, play games, find computer programs to do nearly anything, listen to and even watch live events, buy or lease real estate, take college courses, trace their family tree, correspond with people around the world and do thousands of other things. Every day new, innovative uses are being implemented.
The last month has been a third-world whirlwind. I am sitting in the crowded airport in Johannesburg, South Africa waiting to board a plane for home. A few hours ago I was walking down the main street of Harare, Zimbabwe listening to Christmas music coming from the many stores. There was even a Santa Claus with a tattered red outfit and a lopsided white cotton beard. Just three weeks before, Gloria and I were among the sick, the poor and the wounded in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Dreams come in many forms in the third world. Right now I am dreaming of getting home to Gloria, since these last nine days are our longest time apart in 37 years of marriage. I am dreaming of having our kids and grandkids home for Christmas. While very important to me, this is insignificant compared to the desperate dreams of so many in Cambodia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Unemployment is rampant – over 40% in Harare. Real starvation faces 25% of Zimbabwe’s population. The AIDS epidemic is exploding in all three nations. Cambodia is the hardest hit in all of Asia. Thirty-two percent of Zimbabwe is HIV-positive. South Africa may lose a million people to the epidemic. I dream of a family reunited. Millions dream of a job, a full stomach and living to see another Christmas
Home for the holidays – just close your eyes for a moment and let memories of past Christmas times with family flood in.