Travel Frees You From Prejudice


"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

- Mark Twain

Travel as a positive political act. It opens your mind to new experiences. With political noise encasing us, travel serves two purposes. It reduces our own prejudice and those towards Americans in the countries we visit.

When I first heard of this issue's Freedom focus, I thought of Norman Rockwell's series of paintings. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. How much we can still learn from them today.

Go to another country, especially one that doesn't speak English or any other language you may speak. Despite the inability to communicate easily, you sense which of these four freedoms you keep.

Can you still communicate in your new country? Are they still generally kind and helpful? Are women treated respectfully, or as second class citizens?

Do you have the ability to worship as you choose when you're home? Many countries suffer from no access to an actual persecution. If you can worship, count your blessings. 

Freedom from Want is an early indicator of travel. If you can't afford your life at home, it's rare to have the means to travel. You can see the level of poverty in your host country. Is it a first world country with a homeless issue like ours? Is it a third world country with too many living below the profound poverty line? How do you help those in need where you're visiting? Ask before you attempt to help. In Peru, my good intentions, to take candy bars for the children, could have led to bodily injury. I heeded the advice proffered.

Freedom from Fear. Many foreigners can't understand America's democracy. A vocal minority doesn’t need to agree with the political party in office. What an advantage we have. Most of us understand the ability to fight amongst ourselves yet unite against a common evil.

We all fear terrorism. We need to find better ways to fight it now that it's moved from countries to radicalized individuals. Their goal: to hurt the highest number. Other countries ravaged by terrorism for decades or even centuries welcome us. Genocides persist in our world today.  Help stop it.

Travel allows us to gain perspective. It reduces our own prejudice by meeting people where they live. It allows an understanding of others' needs and wants. It also allows them the opportunity to get to know us. Through persistent kindness, we reduce prejudice against Americans. Otherwise, it seems to be growing in our world.

Travel reduces prejudice. Let's all get traveling. Enjoy our freedom.

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Physician and travel writer, Gail and her family travel extensively learning how to build bridges between cultures, and living, working and learning in other countries as often as possible. By crossing cultural and economic lines, Gail is proud of the family's ability to empathize and help others while they teach the family something new. Freedom has been a challenge for members of the family so empowering individuals, especially young women, is of particular interest.