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Monday, June 22, 2015

Why I Think Travel is the Key to Peace

Moulin Rouge, Paris, France
You've probably heard it many times; that travel broadens your mind. Going to new places, strange places, foreign places gives you an appreciation for how similar we, as humans, actually are, no matter how exotic our differences may seem.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
River View, Montreal, QC, Canada

Whistler, Canada

Legislative Buildings, Victoria, BC
There is something about being in a place, where you don't understand the language, the culture or, basically, anything that makes you more open to learning. You constantly ask yourself questions. "Why?" "Where?" "How?" and more often than not "What?"
Unknown Spanish Musician playing unknown instrument

No matter where you are the children still run around, laugh and have tantrums. The parents work hard and looked distracted by the little one's antics. Food is cooked, business transacted, people get married and people die. There is a oneness to the experience that makes me understand that we are all, essentially, the same. At least that is what strikes me first when I arrive in a new destination.
Kid's getting doused by firemen during the Christmas parade

Honouring fallen heroes, NYC
That's when the differences usually hit me. Why do they do things that way? How can they manage without (fill in your pet convenience)? What makes them so ardent/stoic/happy/sad? I often feel adrift in the complexities of cultural differences and nuance, but that's the point of travelling. You widen your view of what is acceptable, what is normal and what is right.
Chrysler Building New York, NY, USA
Boston, MA, USA

Si'wash Rock, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Plains of Montana
British Columbia Rockies
Sunset in Prince Edward Island
Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador
Quilatoa Lake, Ecuador
If everyone would just take the  time to absorb some of what this world has to offer (and I'm not talking about material crap, but the amazing colours, sights, experiences that are LIFE) then we would be a more peaceful people. But we're losing this, as our world shrinks because of technology and the homogeneousness that leeches into the most exotic places, there is less space for strangeness or disparity. The more we rely on the small screen of our phone to see the world, the less we are likely to open ourselves to what is actually around us.
Magi meets Modern
Kids in 9 Hour Parades
Traditional Dancers
I see it in the defacing of historic monuments and careless disrespect shown to sacred places. I see it in the angry faces of the Ugly American (a term that applies to many outside the American continents) who refuse to accept that things aren't the same as where they come from. I see it in the news, both at home and afar.

There is hope. I've met many travellers that are discovering the world with their heads up, smiles on their faces and ready to learn more about where there are in that moment. This is what leads us to peace. Not just a worldly one, but a spiritual calm as well. I know, it sounds airy-fairy, but I also believe it to be true.
Added bonus...making friends!
Sunrise over the Andes
So go out and discover the world, accept what is different and know that many paths lead to the "right" way. I only ask you to remember that you are an ambassador for your entire country, so be on your best behaviour.

"The journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step" ~ Lao Tzu (really a better translation is "Even the longest journey must begin from where you stand.")

1 comment:

  1. Very good points. One of the reasons given for Kyoto not being a target in the 2nd world war was one of the generals having visited it previously.