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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
How could I miss out on something like this?
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!