In light of the recent immigration ban in the United States, we must recognize that there is a need for open minds and, likewise, open borders. Both endeavors that can be realized by one seemingly scary, but ultimately rewarding act by every U.S. citizen: travel.
Without taking the trip ourselves, we might not realize the following three truths tied to our modern, multicultural world.
1. Don’t judge what you don’t know
A one-stop border hop can teach us that, similar to the United States, Mexicans laugh the same as we do and Canada is also a country with mixed religions. However, we might not realize these simple commonalities the United States has with other countries without intentional investigation or, perhaps, taking a trip.
Travel, be it visiting our neighbors or a cross-continental adventure, gives us a taste of what it’s like to be a foreigner in our own country. Without taking the time to get to know other countries, cultures and people, it can be easy to view foreigners as invaders, instead of people who have a shared human experience. We must seize the opportunity to travel in order to broaden our knowledge and open our minds.
2. See the bigger picture
Just as Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” teaches us that the world is much more than shadows on a cave wall and that, as individuals, in order to see the big picture we need to explore outside our comfort zones. Nobody can do it for you. You must be the explorer, the investigator, and the ambassador in order to get a better idea of the reality we live in. This holds true in today’s world travel gets us to know other countries, cultures and people to stay informed, welcome new perspectives, embrace new cultures and be inspired.
Likewise, the timeless parable of the blind men and the elephant shows that getting to know one part of the whole can blind us from the truth. Only knowing what is in front of us, within our comfort zones and our borders, leads to biases that can prevent us from even trying to reach an understanding of the big picture.
As a side note, three of the blind men in the parable just so happen to reference Trump’s hand complex, the Mexico-United States wall and the Dakota Access pipeline within the story. At least I like to think so.
“It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man feeling the ear.
“It is like a huge wall,” sounded the fifth man who groped the belly.
“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man with the tusk in his hand.
3. To be global is to be humbled
Albert Einstein once said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” The more global we become, the more humbled we are by the vast information around us. The more we travel, the more we know. This great scientist of the 20th century taught us that the more we learn, the more humbled we are in our views of the world. He also happened to be, by the way, a United States immigrant.
Within our own country, culture, and societies we are surrounded by people we know and the comforts of familiarity. In this day and age, economic, cultural and political globalization affects everyone. “The modern world is not a massive collection of nations with people completely different from one another, but instead that the Earth is a village” as said by Danny Page in his article.
We live in a world where people are connected across borders. Therefore, to understand and be understood have become transnational needs.
Even though a lack of money or a low number of paid vacation days may be obstacles in place, now more than ever proves to be a time to encourage international travel, or even require it. Instead of closing our borders, we must open them, cross them and connect through our shared humanity.
Travel may not be a solution to our current political situation, but it is becoming an increasingly evident need in today’s world.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there.