Lesson from Israel: The Passion for Politics and Policy

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET

Having just returned from a six-week trip to Israel, I can't help but jot down some thoughts on how my travels have reframed my thoughts on what it is to be an American. Day in and day out for the last month, I have been inspired by the passion and engagement of just about everyone I have met in Israel. Regardless of profession or level of education, the folks I met were well informed about politics and policy and eager to engage in discussion.

This stands in sharp contrast to my experience at home, where I meet so many sharp, interesting Americans who simply don’t pay attention to what is going on in our government. Would our survival need to be at stake for the average American to tune in and pay attention to policy? Maybe prosperity breeds complacency. One day, the average American might know exactly how his or her Senator voted on a particular issue. I hope to see that day, but shudder to think what will move us in that direction.