Some people think travel is a luxury. That isn’t necessarily true. While there is a definite cost to being on the road, I believe the reward far outweighs it. To me, travel is a necessity. Not because I’m looking for a high. I travel because I need to dispel my prejudice and come to a fuller understanding of humanity.
The Circles of Life: Why You Must Travel to Challenge Your Prejudices
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
– Saint Augustine
Let’s say that your home is the center of an imaginary circle, the radius of which is the furthest distance you’ve been from home. Now imagine, for simplicity’s sake, that every time you stayed at a new place for more than seven nights, you formed a new circle, the radius of which is the furthest distance you’ve been from the center of that circle. We’re using seven nights in this instance because it’s the amount of time it takes before you consider something you do a “habit” (though others suggest it can be longer). For example, if you brushed your teeth seven nights in a row, you’ve formed a habit — at which point not brushing your teeth makes you feel incomplete. The point is that after staying at a new place for a certain number of nights, it would have become a new “home.”
Within these circles, stories of people’s lives, their culture, experiences, emotions, food and way of living become a part of your story. The longer you stay in these circles, the more you understand about the intrinsic values of the community and how they perceive the world. The more you understand, the clearer the circle becomes.
It is possible that while learning about the people within a particular circle, you will also learn of intriguing places far away, of bizarre traditions and strange customs. Because of this exposure, you start to form fuzzy circles of understanding about the places you’ve heard about secondhand. You might even form opinions and prejudices about those places based on these external accounts.
Finding our common bond
The problem is that for some people, these fuzzy circles are all they know. By not going to these places themselves, they can only imagine what life must be like there based on stories they’ve heard in the media or from their friends.
For some, their curiosity will take them to these places. By going there and immersing themselves in that place’s culture, they learn about that locale’s story, and a connection is established. The veil of mystery is lifted and these curious individuals develop a clearer picture.
The more you travel, the more of these circles become clearer to you. Then, magic occurs when these circles intersect. Because within these intersections, the common bond of all the individual circles begins to surface. It might even become apparent that the differentiation between “your story,” “my story,” and “their story” loses its hold: “my story,” “your story,” and “their story” become “our story.”
We all dream the same dreams
It is within these intersections that humanity’s story steps into the spotlight. Perhaps one would even realize that we’re not so different after all; that we all wake up hoping, wishing, and striving to find our own happiness; that the tears that fall from your eyes are the same that fall from mine; that pain, sadness, pleasure, happiness, excitement, and the spectrum of human emotions are shared between us; that at the end of the day, we wish for nothing more than to share a few peaceful moments of life with our friends and loved ones.
It is within these intersections that myths are dispelled and prejudice gives way to understanding. It’s where love and respect are nurtured.
If you are able, take that trip you’ve been thinking about. First-hand experience of different cultures is the remedy to fear. Form your own circles of understanding, and perhaps you might come to the same intersecting conclusion that I’ve laid bare.
I travel for the taste, the sight, and the vibrant sound of a peculiar culture — but for all my might, I haven’t been to a place that I haven’t felt at home. Imaginary borders and walls may separate people, but our shared humanity will bring us together. This is why I travel. Shall we go together?