I have been pondering how to broach this topic.
I want to be respectful and give responsible advice. But I also want to challenge people.
Next to “how can you afford travel” the thing we hear most is “be very careful while traveling over there.”
I understand the sentiment. People care about us and they want us to be safe. They love us. It comes off the tongue almost as easily as saying “how are you” as a greeting in America.
When you say goodbye to someone you love, “be safe” is just a thing you say.
But then we get more pointed questions. “Aren’t you afraid of terrorism?”, “Be careful in Spain, they steal your stuff.”, “Paris is real dangerous right now.”
Rather than be rude and just completely discard the statement, I would like to address the fear of traveling and my worldview on it.
In his book The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain wrote,
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Fear. Fear is what drives so many of us. The fear of the unknown perpetuated by the 24 hour news cycle.
Fear is not necessarily bad though. Fear is part of why we buy in bulk, and a brand of fear is also why we buy life insurance. ‘FOMO’ or, fear of missing out, is a sales tactic we all fall for.
At the risk of sounding radical or naive: turn off your TV’s, don’t read those Facebook debates, stop watching horror films.
What you put in your brain affects your worldview. If you continue to be told that the world is a scary and dangerous place, you will truly think that.
I have friends who have been mugged and hospitalized in Paris, a friend of a friend was drugged, jumped and raped in Tijuana.
But I also know people who were beat to within an inch of their lives in Maui, and I don’t walk the streets of Los Angeles alone at night.
I don’t dwell on this. Anything can happen anywhere. This cannot and will not stop me from traveling the world.
That being said, yes, travel can be dangerous. I am fully aware of this. It pays to be aware and use common sense.
The real danger comes from not knowing where and when is a safe place to be in the local area. There are dangerous and unscrupulous people to be found everywhere.
I am a firm believer that people, are people everywhere around the world.
I have had people adamantly argue to me that certain people groups and cultures are more prone to violence and inherently more dangerous, in contrast to our own here in the US.
This is simply narrow-minded and wrong. The United States is just as violent and dangerous as places in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
No, don’t go vacationing in a war zone, and don’t wear fancy clothes and flashy jewelry in a third world country where you have massive wealth in comparison to the locals.
As we travel around Europe, we are attempting to integrate ourselves to the local culture. We don’t want to be tourists visiting a foreign country gawking at how weird and different everything is.
We are trying to see the beauty in everyone. We are trying to discover beauty in how their customs shape their world. We want to find how we are similar and celebrate our differences.
Travel is a journey of discovery, and as Mark Twain said, it is fatal to narrow-mindedness. Travel will blow your mind and expand your world view.
We choose to help people where we can and we avoid personal injury by making wise choices about when and where we are. This is no different to how I operate in ‘real life’ at home.
But I digress. All this to say; please travel, please expand your mind, please do not be fearful. Take a leap of faith and begin the journey of discovery. The world is a wonderful and beautiful place if you stop viewing it through the lens of fear.
Be wise, be well, and choose to bless someone today.
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