[custom_frame_center] [/custom_frame_center]

Huh? I know it's the 4th of July, but what could family travel - traveling to places like India or Peru - even have to do with the Declaration of Independence?

The famous words penned by Thomas Jefferson which commence this historic document state that "ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Greater words were never written, and a nobler idea never more compelling.

These words have altered history, changed the course of men and nations, and inspired adjustments in governments around the world.

But do we as American citizens believe that these words refer to ALL men? Or are they applicable only to inhabitants of the first world?

Are Haitians endowed with certain inalienable rights? What about children in Uganda? Do Mexicans deserve 'the pursuit of happiness?'

"Yes, of course," we say. But is it all just lip service, or is it truly what's in our hearts?

Family travel expands our borders, and enlarges our mind. It augments opinions based on actual experience, instead of the media or other sources.

It softens our hearts, shrinks the divisions, and joins us arm in arm as humankind. It gives our children (and ourselves) a developed and diversified outlook.

Mark Twain put it best when he 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."

Demonstrating that 'ALL men are created equal' in seven different ways, family travel:

  1. Is fatal to prejudice - defined as a 'preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience,'  prejudice reigns despite our professed unbiased-ness. It rears it's ugly head in the form of generalizations (Muslims are so ________), fear (Mexico is too dangerous to travel), and ignorance (Africa is a poor country). Travel helps us realize just how erroneous those concepts are.
  2. Bashes bigotry - 'intolerance toward those who hold opinions different than oneself' best describes the attitude of a bigot. Before traveling, I was one. I feared or rejected those who's views didn't match my own. Now I see truth in all people's beliefs, and respect our differences.
  3. Annihilates narrow-mindedness - Do you think you know what _________ (fill in the blank - Muslims, Japanese, Latins) are like? Are you afraid to interact with the 'local' people of a third world country you visit? Before traveling I believed that all people in other countries were poor, dangerous and wanted to come to America. Once I visited, I realized that all my parochial ideas were incorrect or misinformed.
  4. Develops broad views -Once you get to know and love people in India, Costa Rica, Peru, you want to include them in the declaration "God Bless America - and your country too!" How could you exclude those you personally know and care about?
  5. Awakens wholesome affections - It's easy to fear (and perhaps hate) the people you don't know. But when they become your friends, suddenly you can't classify 'those' people as being this way or that. You know what your friends are like, perhaps 'they' are all like that - wonderful.
  6. Inspires charitable compassion - I've been blessed with so much, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Isn't their a way I can help others enjoy those freedoms?
  7. Prevents vegitating - when we sit and stew in our little corner of the earth, we begin to grow embittered towards 'them' and all that 'they' are doing. As we expand and explore, we learn that there is no 'they', only 'us'. How could there be sides on a round earth?

Reviewing the past, our gratitude improves our present moments, and prepares us to create the best future possible.

Happy 4th of July! God Bless America - and the rest of the world too!

Photo by gabe gross




Powered by New Facebook Comments

4 Responses

  1. Michael

    There’s one very big problem you’ve missed in your post.

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is flawed logic because “happiness” is the result of an unbalanced neural firing of our neural network. While “peace” is immune from this problem. Happiness if analyzed thoroughly and economically usually happens at the expense of others. For instance, the Ecological Footprint Calculator found online, says that if everyone lived like the average American we would need 5.4 planet earths.

    On the other hand, “peace” is not an emotive mammalian or impulsive reptilian brain response.

    Therefore, I propose that the Declaration of Independence be amended to read:
    Life, liberty and the pursuit of peace.

    I think we now have the cognitive science and fMRI imaging to support such a revision. What remains is a thorough testing to uphold these ideas. If adopted we might have a society that can evolve using the full reasoning power of our neocortex rather than the mammalian brain drunk on emotions or the hoarding and aggressive reptile brain.

    Origins of Thought, Page 6

    • Rachel

      Interesting take – thanks for sharing.

      I think the way your defining ‘happiness’ would be the way I define ‘pleasure.’ The pursuit of pleasure often can be at the expense of others.
      I definitely don’t believe that the American lifestyle is the definition of happiness.

      I equate peace = happiness/joy/fulfillment 🙂

  2. Chris

    Great job weaving together the expansion of travel and how it interacts with how we treat others in very different paths of the world and life.

    Happy 4th!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.