To the bones, travel promotes peace. Travelers overcome boundaries, find similarities and appreciate differences because they directly experience the world and the people in it. Therefore, power of travel is immense and irreplacable.
Much of the hatred in the world today is generated by fear of the unknown. When we don’t travel, we are stuck in a world of concepts. We aren’t merely influenced by, but controlled by what we are told on T.V., in the newspapers and by our peers. For the most part this information is negative. Evening news, as the saying goes, is when they begin by saying “Good Evening” and then proceed to tell us why it isn’t. We hear stories of how many innocent people died because of a suicide bomber in the Middle East and all of the drug trafficking in Central America – but we aren’t told of the goodness in people around the world.
The result is that we fear the world. We see it as a chaotic, terrible place; one that we would never make it out of alive. We stay in our comfort zones, sit on our couches, shake our heads in disappointment and support acts of violence against all those ‘crazy’ people. Those crazy people and crazy places remain as untraveled worlds for our minds and souls. We want want to visit them no more. And the power of travel slips through our fingers.
Leaving home often helps people to understand it much better.
On the other hand, when we travel we take the time to directly experience the world for ourselves. This direct experience fosters respect and understanding. As understanding replaces fear, violence dissipates and peace prevails. Even if we don’t begin our journey with an open mind, we inevitably end with an open mind. And that realization, that drastic change in perspective, that changes the world. That truly is the power of travel…
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain
This idea of direct experience is what we pursue with The Other Tour. We want our participants to interact face-to-face with the locals. As travelers, we all must remember that we are ambassadors for our country. If we treat those that we meet with respect, if we display our willingness to learn from them, they will respect us in return. This respect is possible even if we don’t speak the same language. Or we may be lucky enough to understand the language all living things speak with each other can already go way beyond the verbal communication that our day-to-day consciousness often is stuck with.