I had been hoping to write this post for a long time, and unfortunately I am writing this on the day that coordinated attacks have killed over 200 people in Sri Lanka, a country known for relative peace over the past 10 years. I can’t pretend like this hasn’t happened and like it isn’t a real cause for fear. When planning my upcoming trip, my family and I tried to be very aware of where would be a safe place for us to visit and Sri Lanka made our final list of destinations. I have spent all morning trying to decide if I wanted to write this post today or put it off long enough that this isn’t fresh on everyone’s mind. However, I think it’s important to discuss tragedies and their logical relationship with fear when these things happen and not let us forget the realities of world conflict.
My heart aches for the people of Sri Lanka today. No matter what your feelings are on international conflict and where you stand on who is right and who is wrong (I know that I have international readers and that my view isn’t necessarily the same as yours… and that’s okay), I hope we can all agree that no matter what side of a conflict you stand on, both sides are full of real people with lives and families and complex emotions.
When terrible things like this happen, the dangers and fears behind travel come in to stark focus. We can talk about how safe the world is and how we don’t have to worry, but the reality is that the world can be a dangerous place and when people express fear as a reason they don’t want to travel to certain places, it becomes easy to see why.
My childhood was spent in the shadow of 9/11, Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombings, the Boston Marathon bombings, and countless other horrible attacks.
That isn’t to diminish the very real fears of previous generations, but these incredibly visible world events were broadcasted not only through tv, radio, a written news, but also through social media. We didn’t necessarily have more to be afraid of, I think it was just more visible.
I was 11 years old on 9/11, and my entire childhood was spent being terrified of flying. I know that many people my age (“millennials”, if you will) have complex emotions when it comes to travel and how we view the world. I believe that is why we have a very different relationship with travel than our parents and grandparents do. We have the same fears that everyone else does, but I think many of us choose to look past those fears as a form of rebellion.
I know that my desire to go to places that may not necessarily be “safe” by most people’s standards comes from a place of not wanting to allow myself be scared.
I believe that when we allow ourselves to be scared of the world, that’s how we give fear, and the people who propagate it, power over us.
Different cultures, people, food, and religions are not what we should be afraid of. We shouldn’t be afraid of experiencing things that are different, and therefore can be scary. There are people in the world that we should absolutely be afraid of. We should be scared of the extremism that exists in most every group and what happens when tensions boil over and create violence. But we should never let our fear of extremism make us scared of anything that is different. When we do that, we make our world a much bigger, scarier place than it really is.
Though I will always have some amount of fear when flying, entering crowded places, and going to places that aren’t known for being 100% safe (which really, is anywhere), I have decided not to let fear control my life. I will always take the proper precautions to protect myself and those around me, but I know that the vast majority of people in the world are good, and we should focus more on them and use them as a teaching tool for all the good the world has to offer.
These views are my own and, though I try to be considerate and aware of all feelings and beliefs in writing this, I know not everyone will agree with me. I welcome constructive comments, but please don’t use this as a place to preach hatred or anger. Inconsiderate and distasteful comments will be deleted.