Having grown up with a limited scope of knowledge about the world around me, due to living in a western-centric, capitalist and globalised society, has often left me with questions about the experiences, cultures and history of countries not part of the system in which I have been privileged to live.
Being fortunate enough to study at a respected university and work in a supportive and fairly well-paid part-time job has allowed me to create opportunities to travel and learn more about the world in which I live, broadening my horizons and knowledge, reducing prejudice and bias I know I have oftentimes willingly accepted based on the propaganda my media sources exploit as a result of a lack open minded and opposing views. *
The ability to travel and explore the world is one of the most enriching and self-affirming activities one can do to learn more about oneself and the norms, values and traditions of the people living in countries so near, yet so far away from us. Travelling across the globe offers the ability to challenge and question our everyday misconceptions, prejudice, ignorance and bigotry held towards various groups of people from cultures deemed to be so drastically different and alien to our own. These negative traits bred within ourselves lead to a lack of empathy, isolation and familiarity only with what is on our front doorstep. It is necessary to challenge and shift these existing perspectives, and journeying beyond our immediate localities is the antidote to many of our socio-political issues, which stem from the insularities we experience in the Western world.
Taking the time to go away and seek newfound enlightenment need not be an onerous task. Admittedly, it can be difficult to communicate with individuals in a conversation where there is no common tongue, and it can be unrelentingly stressful attempting to navigate around an unfamiliar city, but what we come away with is worth the trials and tribulations we might have faced. When our body is pumped full of adrenaline and we feel nothing but anxiety and fear at the prospect of what lies ahead, this is when we are forced to learn. The only way to overcome this fear is to open our minds by accommodating to the situation we are placed in.
Even if we enter a new destination with what is believed to be an open mind, we undoubtedly walk away realising just how closed-minded we truly were. Now that we know better, we have to do better. Once we have seen the ball and chains that restrict people, we can begin to free ourselves from them. If we can at first liberate ourselves through experiencing the knowledge of the ephemeral beauty of life, we can eventually emancipate others by subtly altering the structure of their individual lives to include things that will release them from biased portrayals of various cultures. We do not know until we are educated. And the best manner in which to become educated about culture, norms, values, religion, politics or lifestyles is to put ourselves directly in that life, and experience these matters first-hand.
Accepting as true various notions paradoxical to widely accepted opinions is not so radical or drastic. It encourages free-thinking and debates on far-reaching issues or matters that most of us freely accept without challenge. We should be inspired to reject the indoctrination of false and common beliefs about our humanity and the nature of our society.
We should not allow ourselves to fall prey to various vagaries of perception that allude to the closure of independent thought. Nothing is set in stone. Nothing is definitive. We are free-agents, and consequently we should not deny ourselves the opportunities to expand on our prior knowledge with thoughts and attitudes that are deemed different and distinctive. And if the opportunity to travel and expand our minds to the world around us arises, we should grab it with both hands.
Travelling fundamentally transforms us all. It enhances the global connection forged over many generations, but rather than relying on technological advancements, we create real human relations and networks. It stokes our curiosity, expands our awareness and introduces us to greater diversity.
* The opening paragraphs were originally published on 02/08/2015 on get-human article, Honest Roof.