Just like you, I am deeply affected by recent world events, and if you have ever wondered what you can do to help promote world peace, try traveling! I truly believe that traveling outside our comfort zones, to other states, countries, and continents, provides opportunities to expand our worldview and promote peace. We realize that much of what we have been told or taught is based on bias, prejudice and fear. Information, which was offered to us and accepted as truth, is now presented for personal scrutiny through our own experiences. Immersing ourselves in another country and culture breaks through many of our barriers to understanding others. We realize our place in this world is very small and not the center of the Universe.
Each time I travel by car from Florida to my hometown in Georgia I am amazed how quickly the voices on NPR fade away and are replaced with fundamentalist preachers and right wing talk show hosts. In just a matter of a few hundred miles and several hours, I am reminded how isolated most people are by their demographics, unaware of their own cultural, religious and political socialization. This drastic change in radio stations while crossing into the “Land of Dixie” is just one example of how values and beliefs are taught and reinforced. The same thing applies to other regions, and countries.
Our family is probably the most powerful force when it comes to shaping our early attitudes about other people and cultures. Our world beliefs are mostly formed during childhood as parents pass their own ideologies down to their children. Our schools and teachers also have a profound effect on our views teaching patriotism and cultural mythologies. As we get older we tend to pick friends with similar views who do not challenge us to question our beliefs. These forces which form much of our worldview in early childhood, usually affect us for the rest of our lives.
Travel helps us to understand that our responsibility does not end with our own families. We have a connection to every individual and we are responsible for all children of the world. When we stop thinking in terms or us and them, or mine and theirs, we realize that we are all in this together. We are all on the same small planet in a very large Universe. Our future depends upon one another.
Traveling and living in Mexico, Indonesia, India, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, and other wonderful beautiful places has taught me how much alike we all are. Our languages, foods, songs and dances may be different, but at the core we are the same. We all want the best for our children, we want to be safe, live in peace and be happy.
At each moment we have a choice. We can listen and buy into the idea of isolation, or we can promote peace by not giving in to hysteria. The more you travel the harder it is for you to be controlled by fear and propaganda. You can spend yet another vacation traveling to Sea World and living in a bubble or get out there and meet the rest of the world. Open your eyes, your mind and your heart, to the realities that exist outside of your own country. Realize that there are over 7 billion people living on this planet and most do not think or believe the same things you do. The more we travel the better we understand others and ourselves. The better we understand others, the more likely we are to be empathetic and compassionate. Travel for yourself, travel for your children, and most of all, travel for world peace.