Often before or after I have visited a country I will tell people about how much I am looking forward to, or how much I enjoyed traveling through said country. And many times I will be met by the same few lines, “Why would you want to go there? The people are disgusting and the food is horrible. I would never visit that country”.
It is a sad thing to say, but countless times I have had this response. From peoples of many different countries around the world. And always from those who have never traveled to any of the lands that they so easily discriminate against. Or know even a shred of information about the peoples that they so casually dismiss. Often these are normal individuals who live their daily lives and never show any inkling of racism. Whether it be an English person talking about China. A Chinese person talking about India. A Chilean talking about Argentina or a Korean talking about a Japan. We have advanced much over the last couple of decades. However, racism is still prevalent in every corner of our world.
There is one group of people however where it is rare indeed to hear a racist comment. From those who travel. Those who have actually spent time with the peoples that they talk about. Those who have been imbued with a deep lust to wander. These people venture forth and learn that we are all the same, that we all bleed red, no matter the colour of our skin or the size of our wallets. To travel is to learn, to travel is to understand that all humans no matter if they live on an island in the pacific, in the jungles of asia or the cities of europe, that we are all the same.
Hopefully as the world grows ever richer, we can only hope that more people will wander. More will cast of the shackles that keep us rooted in our villages, towns and cities. More will learn and also experience for themselves the other cultures of our planet. And maybe, just maybe with a little bit of luck, racism will be killed forever and cast into the depths of history where it belongs. If more people actually met face to face the others that share this world, hostility to one another would vanish and love between us would flourish.
A short quote that all should read
“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, The Innocents Abroad