“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.”
– Mark Twain
Like anybody else with even an ounce of empathy I was sickened earlier this week to wake up to the news coming out of New Zealand.
I can’t imagine the fear and confusion that the victims must have felt, and the survivors must feel still. I can’t imagine the hate and the bile that led to a human-being rationalising the massacre of other humans as justifiable. I can’t imagine the divergence in thought process that sees some people rejoice in these senseless actions instead of feeling disgust and revulsion. I can’t imagine what drives a person to both seek out, view and pass on a video of mass-murder to other unsuspecting people.
The world, for me, appears to be fracturing and becoming more and more divided. News cycles are dominated by hugely impactful subjects where everything is splitting into an ‘us or them’ dynamic. Religion, healthcare, climate change, race, Brexit. From global, to national right down to local there seems to be conflict and little co-operation.
It’s very easy to despair and see no end to it.
But that is why you occasionally have to step back, look around and draw on your own experiences.
My experience is this – 99% of people are fundamentally the same. We all want to be able to live our lives, love the people we love, protect and provide for those close to us and to continue with and discover the things that make us happy.
Travel has led me to that conclusion. Meeting people from all walks of life has led me to that conclusion. I’ve had fundamentally the same conversation sat at the side of a river in China as I’ve had in a bar in Arizona. I’ve laughed with people from all continents as we shared our local oddities only to find that they are pretty much the same. I’ve found that when you travel, or indeed meet someone travelling to your home, we’re all equally fascinated to know where you come from and why are you here. The answer is nearly always a case of wanting to expand our knowledge and experience new cultures.
Don’t fear people that you think are different to you. Recognise and celebrate those little differences between us all. But never lose sight that beyond that the vast, vast majority of our needs, wants hopes and dreams are very similar and we’re much more alike than you may first realise.
As difficult as it is when evil occurs, and feature on the news to be amplified and broadcast into our homes we need to remember the actions of extremists are not the dominant worldview, and most certainly does not represent the whole of humanity.