Travel teaches toleration.
We are often astounded by what politicians say and do. It is easy to think it’s never been worse, though likely every generation thinks the same. Political hyperbole and rhetoric only seem to go in one direction: up.
In these years of the early 2000s, though, that rhetoric has been increasingly intolerant. More worrisome, the supporters of these iconoclastic leaders no longer nod in quiet agreement; they’ve been empowered to echo and amplify that intolerance.
Ironic that we can turn to a politician of earlier times for a tonic to soothe our troubles. “Travel teaches toleration” wrote Benjamin Disraeli, a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice over.
Any traveler will tell you that, deep down, people around the world are basically the same. Peel away the color of the skin. Forget the name of the god. Put aside the mutual distrust of what is foreign. What remains are the same needs, fears, and hopes. Go to those places where you are the foreigner, and you will come to understand. From understanding comes tolerance, without which there can be no resolution.
We’ve heard it said time and again: “If it is to be, it starts with me.” So go. Travel. Learn about others: their customs, their fears, their foods, their hopes, their problems, their solutions. Before you know it, tolerance won’t be something we need…it will be something you have.
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