I hope the Russians love their children too

I try and keep most of my blog posts centered on marketing, brand and strategy, but occasionally I feel the need to throw in random subjects of topical interest.  After reading Chris Gillebeau’s 9/13/10 blog post on “Travel and Social Privilege,” I started thinking of the taboo topics of politics and religion, and how they relate to travel.  Whoa…is this totally off-topic or…???
 
If you’re not familiar with Chris Guillebeau, you should try reading a few posts on his “Art of Non-Conformity” blog.  In addition to being an a non-conformist and grass-roots entrepreneur, Chris is an inveterate traveler.  Did I neglect to mention that he’s also very humble, generous and thought-provoking?  Monday’s post debated the concept of travel and social privilege.  Is it wrong to travel and encounter people who don’t have the means or opportunity to likewise travel?  Are we exploiting people in other countries with our colonial attitudes?
 
Chris Gillebeau’s post started me thinking about why I love to travel and why I believe that it is important for each of us to secure the time and the means to visit other places and interact with people in different circumstances.  I don’t have a goal of visiting every country in the world as Chris Gillebeau does, but I have been to all 50 states, all 7 continents, yada yada, so I feel that I have seen some cultures and people very different than my own. 
 
The reason I travel is two-fold: to see the amazing sights on this planet, and to see the world from different points of view.  We can imagine all we wish, but until we can see the world through the lens of another person’s eyes, culture and values, we can’t appreciate a world view that isn’t our own.  For me, actually standing on someone’s home turf allows me to observe the context of their belief system so that I can understand the genesis of their personal philosophy and their actions.     
 
Last week as I watched the “pastor” from Florida spouting his world view, I recalled that the week before I had hosted friends who were observing Ramadan.  Their conversation about personal reflection, sacrifice and cleansing during this month-long period were in such opposition to the radical views that Mr. Jones believes Islam to be, that the two parties could have been talking about diametrically-opposed religions. 
 
When my husband and I visited Muslim countries a few years ago (post 9/11), we were treated with great respect, curiosity and willingness on the part of the people to really understand our point-of-view on a variety of topics.   It proves again that a few individuals aren’t necessarily representative of the whole.  Just as the vitriolic rhetoric that Mr. Jones uses is anathema to me, the actions of the radical few in any country don’t represent the beliefs and feelings of the majority.
 
My husband and I are heading out soon for an adventure to a couple “Stan countries,” (formerly Russian/Soviet states) hoping to interact with a culture and Islamic way of life on a portion of a former Silk Road route.  I’m reminded that this moment in history is not the first time that we Americans have labeled entire nations or religions with a broad brush.  Our fears and jingoism get the better of us at times.  Sting even wrote a song about those blind emotions that distance us from our fellow travelers on this road of life: 
 
…There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children, too.   (Fill in your own group)
 
–“Russians,” by Sting
written in 1985 during The Cold War
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    4 Comments

    1. Posted September 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Great post, Mary – thanks for adding such thoughtful insight. And congrats on 50 states + 7 continents!

      Yours in World Domination,

      cg

    2. Posted September 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Chris, Thanks for the good words! Continued good luck on your quest to see (and dominate) the world!

    3. Posted May 25, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Your method of describing all in this piece of writing is genuinely
      good, all be capable of without difficulty understand it, Thanks a lot.

    4. Posted October 13, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Well, apart from the curfews maybe. The worst?

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