Why I Will Travel The World Despite Terrorism

I will continue to travel in the wake of terrorist activity around the world. Am I crazy? Well, that question is constantly up for debate.

Cairo, Egypt
Cairo, Egypt

My Facebook feed has been clogged with fear and vitriol. Many of my fellow Americans seem to want to shut out the world, lock down our borders, and live in a bubble with an arsenal of weapons.

Sunrise at the Taj Mahal
Sunrise at the Taj Mahal

I for one cannot do that and refuse to be afraid. No, I am not being brave, nor am I naive. I am acutely aware of reality.

Myanmar
Myanmar

Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply affected by the recent bombings in Istanbul, Ankara, Brussels and Iraq, not to mention the ongoing war in Syria. These events cause me despair in a way I have trouble describing without becoming emotional. I can’t sleep at nights, thinking of how many people are suffering, while I have this amazing life. I love the world so much and have sincere sympathy for all the victims. One of the reasons these events cause me so much distress is because I am half-Arab.  Everytime one of these events happens, I automatically become nervous, not for myself, but for the backlash against entire communities of Arabs. Fear makes people reactionary and irrational. Fear is powerful stuff and those in power know it. Responsible leaders do not exploit it. Too bad there aren’t many of those!

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

I’m a science and math minded person so numbers speak to me. Let’s look at numbers. What’s actually going to kill me? What should I be afraid of?

These statistics all refer to Americans. Bear with me here. References are at bottom of page.

  • Number killed abroad by terrorists 2004-2014:  303
  • Number killed on American soil by jihadist terrorists in same time period:  24
    • Number  killed on American soil by both jihadist and non-jihadist terrorists:  71
  • Number killed by guns in same 10 year period: 280,000 to 300,000 (Includes suicides and police shooting)
  • Number killed by a toddler with a gun in 2015: Average 1 person per week  (I swear I did not make this up!)
  • Number  killed by car accidents in 2014: 33,745
  • Number  killed by unintentional falls in 2011:  30, 208
  • Number killed by heart disease every year: 610,000

I am not making an argument for or against guns nor for or against toddlers. I am saying that toddlers are a tad scary and driving in Miami is downright terrifying! However, I’m not really thinking about terrorism when I travel. I’m more worried about that bug I’m going to get from eating everything in sight from sketchy street markets.

It’s humorous that the same person terrified to travel may be the same person who never gets off the couch nor eats a vegetable. Be very afraid of your heart buddy! And for Pete’s sake try not to fall!

Jaiselmer, India
Jaiselmer, India

After traveling to almost 40 countries, I feel fairly confident in saying that most people are good and want the same basic things I do, such as peace, respect, shelter, sustenance and love.

Tribal village with ethnic minorities in northern Thailanf
Ethnic minorities in northern Thailand

We have politicians and media,  as do other countries, constantly telling us to be afraid. Everyone hates you. Others are jealous and want to destroy your way of life.  These statements are really stupid irresponsible.

Masai Tribe, Tanzania
Masai Tribe, Tanzania

Do some people hate me because I’m an American? Probably. Do I care much? No. This 0.0001% of people gets tons of media attention, but these aren’t the people I encounter in my travels.  If locals discover I am American, they are usually delighted and have a million adorable questions about life in America.

Ethnic Karen woman in northern Thailand
Ethnic Karen woman in northern Thailand

I find that most people have the same philosophy as myself.  They may not approve of what my government does, but they don’t blame me as an individual. There are plenty of things wrong in the world that bother me, everything from animal abuse to child slavery, but I don’t like to generalize an entire population based on the actions of a certain group.

Nubian family Aswan, Egypt
Nubian family Aswan, Egypt

I have traveled to many countries where my co-workers and others have said things like “I  wouldn’t step foot in one of those countries ” or “don’t you know they hate us?”

Young monks in Myanmar
Young monks in Myanmar

Hmmm. These people that everyone keeps saying hate me are awfully warm and hospitable! Go figure. Are there cultural differences that should be respected? Absolutely. To me learning these things is part of the fun of traveling. Traveling with an open mind and open heart is the very thing that more need to do. Interacting with people from different countries, different cultures and different religions fosters understanding and acceptance.

Fes, Morocco
Fes, Morocco

In fact, this sort of bridge building is something terrorists fear. Where would they be if we didn’t hate and fear as much as we do? I’d be willing to bet that they’d be a lot less successful.

He was showing off his little sister
He was showing off his little sister. Myanmar

I love to interact with locals and really get a feel for what life is like in other places. I live for this stuff and nothing is going to keep me from continuing to explore the world.

Trekking with Black Hmong in North Vietnam
Trekking with Black Hmong in North Vietnam

How could I miss out on something like this?

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Or this?

Taj Mahal, India
Taj Mahal, India

No thanks. I’m not missing out baby!

Stay tuned because I have more amazing trips coming up, including solo travel and (gasp) several Muslim and Arab countries. I couldn’t be more excited. If you were hesitating to book that next trip, whether it be to Paris or Abu Dhabi, just do it. Terrorists want to divide us, want to disrupt our lives, and want us to be afraid. Don’t let them win!

References:

http://www.thetrace.org/2015/12/gun-violence-stats-2015/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/02/us/oregon-shooting-terrorism-gun-violence/

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/oct/05/viral-image/fact-checking-comparison-gun-deaths-and-terrorism-/

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/accidental-injury.htm

About The Author

csaradar

7 COMMENTS

  1. Abdeljalil (Eddie) Maamry | 30th Mar 16

    Cherene, this blog speaks the truth that many people avoid to admit, while the rest is exploiting fear to fulfill what ever agenda they have in life. Fear planted, fear harvested! Greater comfort zone is the sweetest fruit of open mind. What a great blog! Peace and love.

    • csaradar | 31st Mar 16

      Thank you for the kind words!

  2. Laura | 30th Mar 16

    This is a great post Cherene! Inspiring and I hope it reaches many people!! Xoxo

    • csaradar | 31st Mar 16

      Thanks Laura:)

  3. riad saradar | 30th Mar 16

    Outstanding and very moving blog, with equally great pictures. Keep up the good work

  4. Marilyn Tenekjian | 30th Mar 16

    Cherene, I love this new post about why you still travel. I could not agree more! The statistics are stunning. If we have the opportunity, we must not miss out on experiencing the wonderful world in which we live. For anyone who cannot travel as much for whatever reason, your blog is a beautiful, visual trip to explore and read about fascinating places and cultures. Great job!

    • csaradar | 31st Mar 16

      The statistics ARE crazy, right? You put that beautifully, thank you!

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