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?
"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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
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