Photo courtesy of Flickr
July 4th has to be the most American holiday there is. As Americans we spare no expense and will go to any lengths to make sure we celebrate it with a bang, literally. The skies over every major US city and tiny hamlet light up in a fantastic display of Patriotic fervor as we party under the rockets red glare.
I can't help but reflect on the reasons for our celebration. This is the American remembrance of our Independence from England and the tyranny of the British Crown. How dare they tyrannize us! How dare they tax us! They sure made a bad calculation on that one. If there is anything that will get Americans all hot in bothered more than tyranny is taxes.
America is a great country in many ways and it's healthy to celebrate our accomplishments and victories over oppression. I feel sometimes though that this has become a celebration of our dominance and justification for believing that the American way is the only way.
What we should celebrate is how America has always taken the best that the world offers in science, manufacturing, musicians, poets, immigrants, engineers, The Beatles and built on it, making it better for ourselves and the rest of the world. Adoption, innovation and rebirth has always been an American thing. Not that no other country has that thing, we just pride ourselves on this thing.
As much as I like a celebration and honoring a good roe where we came out on top I can't help but get this feeling that perhaps, a little humility is a good thing. Taking the time to consider that it is possible that blind pride masks ignorance is powerful.
It frees you from unwarranted assumptions of superiority and allows you the privilege of objectivity.
Ego Deflation Though Travel
We all have ego deflation at one point or another on our travels. I know I did for the first time outside of Lake Bled in Slovenia. The owner of the hostel that picked us up had apparently thought we were Canadian or British, if memory serves me correctly. Upon learning that we were American, he began to tell us about how we should be too ashamed to travel. I knew I shouldn't have stepped out of my cave that past spring!
We than proceeded to hear a story about how someone is out picking apples and a bomb falls on them. True this happens. True we do this. I don't know where this story was or who this happened to, but this story just highlights my point.
No one has the right to oppression. No one should be oppressed.
Just like you hated that high school bully, no one likes to be messed around with. Even less do they like to die.
This is kind of what we are celebrating here on the 4th. This is kind of what we have stood for in America or what we tell ourselves and anyone willing to listen.
Communication Lead to Understanding
The more we communicate, generally speaking the greater people can facilitate an understanding between each other. The more you hit the open road, jump aboard a train, hop on a plan or hit the pavement and travel, the more you question the assumption that inherently one group is better than the next for some reason or other.
Often you find it is the value put on education within a society and the access to it which is the greatest defining factor of abilities and advancement within that society. Education tends to lead toward questioning previously held assumptions. If you seek answers you find that more often than not, there is nothing to be scared of.
Wait... I think I heard something like this from someone else before.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Photo courtesty of starwars.wikia
Travel Wipes Away Fear Of The Unknown
Well it might not might wipe away all your fear of the unknown, That monster might still be under your bed in your childhood bedroom and who knows what is in the closet after all these years, but you get the point. Another American childhood icon has advice on this subject.
“Knowing is half the battle.”
That is some good ole fashion advice right there. I know that you may be thinking “Why put stock in what fictional character from movies and cartoons have to say.”. Well these are tidbits of knowledge from some good old bye gone days, albeit only the 80's in the case of Joe. I have found both these sayings to be true.
Each time I step into a new culture or sit down to experience the world through someone else's eyes over a conversation and cup of coffee, tea if your English or a pint in most cases, I learn that travel and the search for the commonalities we all share is reason enough to celebrate the freedom to exist for everyone.