Our family has always held travel – everywhere from other parts of our state, to developing countries, to the “great sites” of the world – as one of our core values. Travel may seem like an elitist thing to value. And maybe it is. But trust me when I say that we don’t take for granted that we have the resources and opportunities to travel.
Yet, seeing how the rest of the world lives, meeting people from around the globe, and debunking the “ugly American” stereotype (or at least we try our best to do so, but sometimes we fail) are ways that we can make a difference in the world. Again, I hear it. There is some sense of pretentiousness to it.
Our hope is that, through travel, our daughters will grow to have a different view of the world than they would otherwise. Though the world seems small the moment a pop up on our cell phones notifies us of explosions in Brussels just minutes after they happen, the reality is we inhabit a world full of variety, disparity, and vastness. It may sound trite but it’s a big world and it is difficult to understand this big world and its people if we stay in our cocoon and never spread our wings to explore it.
Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read and listened to conversations about the risk of international travel. I’ve had friends who have asked if we want our daughter who is studying abroad to hurry up and come home or if our younger daughter is still making her trip to Europe next week. I’ve been asked if I am worried. Yes, I am. But not so much for my daughters’ safety. I’m worried about us. All of us. I’m worried that we will give in to fear and in so doing, we decide who and what wins. And friends, it isn’t us standing on the podium.
Here’s the deal. Yesterday morning, just as news of the second explosion in Brussels came in, I was boarding a flight to Paris on my way back to the US after visiting our daughter who is studying abroad. At the same time I was boarding my flight, I learned that my husband was involved in a road rage incident that involved a man waving a gun at him and at someone in another car – less than a mile from our home in our little suburban neighborhood. Terror can strike anywhere and in many forms.
Both of these incidents are incongruent with our view of how the world should be. These events fly in the face of all that we hope to teach our girls through travel. It seems we have been confronted with the need to make an unwelcomed choice. And so, though we are not risk takers, we have made the decision to do our best to not live in fear and to not let terror – at home or abroad – have the final say. I don’t know. Maybe we are foolish, but something tells me this is about more than our personal safety.
Of course, we all have to make our own decisions about where to draw our own boundaries and we must respect and encourage one another in the process. But make no mistake about it – we get to decide who wins. My hope is that we can all be bold enough to help each other be brave in the midst of all that world might hurl at us. I feel like we owe it to our children and to the world.