Opinion

For the Love of Travel, Stop the Division

Washington, D.C.

It’s Time to Stop the Fighting

It’s time to stop the fighting. The Buddah said, “When you hold a hot coal to throw at someone else, you burn your own hand.” So why do people keep hurting themselves, in the name of “punishing” others? And why do they think it’s worth it? To what end? The end is no end – it’s escalation, as the fighting and division increases. And with devastating consequences to ALL of us. People are losing their humanity. It’s empathy, tolerance, and respect for others that promote humanity. Hate, anger, and vengeance chip away at that humanity. More and more, around the globe, people are gripped by fighting and division this year, and it’s a sad state to be in.

The Potential Consequences

The potential risk is extremely high. Study after study has shown that hate and anger increase stress – not just in the person the hate and anger is directed toward, but in the person feeling it. But the consequences will not just be from the increased stress we all feel from the fighting. Governments take advantage when people’s humanity is diluted. This is when they can most effectively fan the flames of division and promote a cult-like mentality to get people to believe they need to let the government take more power. To reduce our freedom, to “help” us. Time and time again in history this has had disastrous consequences. We have been lucky in the U.S., Canada, and Britain that things have not escalated to that point, so far. We still have a semblance of freedom from government oppression. Others have not been so fortunate. We should never take that for granted.

No Country is Immune

As an American with a Canadian spouse, I spend several months a year in both countries. While these problems are definitely more profound in the United States, I’ve noticed some of it simmering on low heat in Canada. And if the news is any indication, Britain is not immune either. In fact, no country is immune, and we’re seeing that more than ever on a world-wide scale in 2020. American and Canadian news outlets don’t show it all, but if you tune in to world news outlets you realize this “other virus” has spread world-wide: violence and division. I’ve certainly never seen anything like this in my lifetime. Chances are you haven’t either.

Thanks to Paweł Czerwiński  for this image

At a Tipping Point

The United States, in particular right now, is unrecognizable. The closer we get to the election, the worse it seems to get. But it’s been brewing for several months. Now more than ever we need to remember some points that seem to have been forgotten. For one, we all have the right to our own opinion, guaranteed by the First Amendment (at least for now!) People who disagree with you share that right with you. Second, no one is living the same circumstances as you, and people’s circumstances shape their viewpoint. Just because something is right for you, doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing is right for someone else or their family. What’s a bad choice for you may be the right choice for someone else, for reasons we can’t possibly envision. I know it’s a cliche, but live and let live!

People’s Circumstances are Different

People often talk about putting themselves “in others’ shoes,” but from a rational standpoint that’s impossible. Why are people judging others they don’t even know personally??! This is rampant on social media. People have their own reasons for their opinions, and it’s not our place to assume what those may be. Yet how quickly people assume “they must be stupid,” or “they’re ignorant.” Ignorant means not having enough information. Frankly, we don’t have enough information about others since we can’t, as a matter of fact, put ourselves in their shoes. So judging is misplaced and pointless. The next time we’re tempted to judge others, we should spend our energy focusing on how we can improve ourselves instead. Everyone on planet earth has room for improvement.

How this Relates to Travel

To travel inherently is to stop the fighting. Travel is about coming together. It’s about tolerance of other peoples’ differences, expanding our point of view, and understanding. It’s not about hate and fighting. If the world is overcome with hate, intolerance, and fighting, that doesn’t bode well for the future of travel. Places can become too gripped with unrest for people to feel safe visiting. And people can lose their desire to travel because of outside influences promoting a sense of intolerance in them. Let’s NOT let that happen!! Don’t follow the herd. Chart your OWN path – by taking the high road.

Travel Writers Should Endorse the Ideals of Travel

I’ve noticed travel writers (I won’t mention any names) endorsing political candidates. This is totally inappropriate. For one thing, they’re losing fans – people who may be less inspired to travel because they’re not receiving that person’s content any more. (And I know this is true because these people are commenting this fact on social media.) Second, political endorsements fan the flames of fighting and intolerance. If you don’t believe me, just check out the social media threads of one of these endorsement posts. They’re full of name-calling, judging, and downright nastiness. And these comments are coming from a community of people who have (or had) something in common. That’s an appreciation for travel. That should be a point of coming together and camaraderie! Rest assured, I will NEVER endorse a candidate in my blog posts or videos. Instead, I’ll be promoting the ideals of travel: tolerance, acceptance, and cooperation. I urge others to do the same.

Celebrities Should Endorse their Fans, not Candidates

As for celebrates, I never cease to be amazed at how many of them are willing to alienate huge swaths of their fan base, and for what? Are they egotistical enough to think if they endorse a candidate, that all their fans will just change their mind, vote for that candidate, and stay fans? No, actually, that’s not what happens. What happens is they lose fans. Nothing is gained. Check out this Forbes article, “Dear Celebrities, Research Shows That Your Political Opinions Hurt Your Cause More Than Help It.” (Most) people are capable of thinking for themselves and doing what’s right for them and their family. And they DON’T appreciate or respect being told what to do by others who can’t even begin to relate to their circumstances (like multi-millionaire celebrities!)

Life is Tough Enough

Life is tough enough without having to be at odds with our neighbors and constantly in an offensive or defensive stance. The cost of living is high, many of us are working too hard, and many others can’t find work at all. And the government is ordering us around and limiting our freedom more than ever. (This post is being written during a pandemic.) Don’t we have enough to worry about without judging others for their views, and defending ourselves when others judge us? Not to mention people are losing some of the things they really enjoy, and that reduce their stress, because those sources of previous relief “get political.” The solution? Leave politics where it belongs: in the ballot booth, the Capital or Parliament and other government buildings, and between close friends and family members who either agree, or can agree to disagree without hostility. Healthy debate is fine; vitriol is not.

Conclusion

Let’s stop the fighting. Whether you’re reading this close to an election or not, vote what’s right for YOU and your family. That goes for wherever in the world you live, if you even have the right to vote. Cherish and treasure that right – don’t be pressured by others – whether they’re travel writers, celerities, politicians, the media, or neighbors. Your lives are different. Your needs are different. What’s right for someone else isn’t necessarily what’s right for you. Many people around the world don’t even have the privilege – please don’t squander it. And say “NO” to hate, despite the rampant peer pressure on social media these days to hate those who disagree. I fear if we don’t all do that, we risk irreparable damage to our countries, and, worse, our humanity.

Comment with Your Thoughts

Please leave a comment below what your favorite travel ideals are? Why do you love visiting foreign cultures, and meeting people in different circumstances with different views? How can we come together and stop the fighting? Thanks for sharing! (Political endorsements and hateful comments will be screened and deleted!)

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