I’m not going to sugarcoat it: It’s been a difficult week. I still feel a sense of unreality about it all. And yes, I worry about what this will mean for Mockingbird and for my own future. I’ll have more to say about that…next week. This week, I want to say this:
Certain politicians have endorsed a retreat from engaging with the world, a view that many people regrettably seem to share. And after Tuesday, it’s tempting to hunker down and hide for the next four years. (A medically-induced coma is also appealing, but for the threat that our health insurance will be cut off before 2020.) I’m also admittedly not looking forward to facing the baffled questions of the people I meet on my next trip abroad or a return to the days when the world’s opinion of our president made international travel a bit awkward. But – but – we cannot retreat or hide or even pretend to be Canadian.
Instead, we must keep moving forward. And that movement needs to include travel. I know some of you might be thinking: In such uncertain times, how can you say travel is important? My self-interest aside, I assure you it is.
Travel is not just an escape from your everyday life (though sometimes it is an escape). Travel is about expanding your worldview, about learning and experiencing, about connecting with people who are different than you, about understanding both yourself and others in a deeper way. Travel builds empathy and spurs curiosity; it heals and inspires; it eradicates fear and bolsters courage.
And travel isn’t just beneficial for our own personal growth. As travelers, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to make the world a better place. And now we will have the opportunity and responsibility to travel the world as ambassadors for the best of the United States: our inclusiveness, respect, tolerance, kindness, generosity, hope, and love. Travel, in its best forms, is a beautiful kind of diplomacy.
Mark Twain said: "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."
Travel is not frivolous. Travel is love. And the more we travel, the better off we all will be.