But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Making room in my brain for the results of the presidential election has been difficult. I did not expect Donald Trump to win and feel absolutely stunned at the final returns.
It is clear that America is sorely divided. I am always (foolishly) surprised to learn that people think differently than I do. But clearly many people do hold opinions and expectations which differ from mine.
Months ago, some commentators wondered aloud if Trump’s appeal was the same phenomenon which is cropping up all around the world, of people pulling inward. The attempted Scotland secession from the UK, the Brexit vote, the second thoughts which some nations are having about accepting refugees – all arguably could be expressions of protectionism, nationalism, and tribalism. If we all circle our wagons, we feel safer – for a while.
Then after a period of separation, of thinking of us against them, our way or the highway, we lose track of what “those” people are really like. If we do not have consistent, multiple interactions with them on many levels, we become easy prey for the worst imaginings of our hearts. Everyday truth about how my neighbor lives and thinks is replaced by sketchy memories and stereotypes. We cease to deal with reality and guess about what might be the truth.
On the other hand, if we are able to meet with our neighbors, we have a much better chance of knowing who they are, what is important to them and how we can best help each other. At church we talk a lot about “who is my neighbor?” and the answer is never “just the people who live next to you.” I am thinking further afield here. If we know from experience that Muslims are not the scourge of Satan, that not all immigrants are rapists and robbers, that women hold up half the sky and deserve to be treated as equals, then we have a better chance of understanding and living peaceably with each other.
My tagline is “Boundaries divide. Travel Unites.” Like Anne Frank, I still believe that people are really good at heart. Yes, I want to sell travel but there is much more to it for me than making some money. I really feel that meeting people where they live can help us to be wiser, kinder, and better together. Perhaps we need to get to know each other better in the US first. Getting to know how the world looks from another corner of the country — or the globe — is important. How does the air feel, look, and smell? How crowded or noisy or quiet is it in another place? What do they eat for breakfast? What do they hope for their children?
Experiencing another world can bring knowledge, compassion, and appreciation of both that place and our own home. I will continue to offer ways for you to cross boundaries. Together we can create a better world for everyone.
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
10 November 2016