I went on a journey one summer with my big white dog and my little orange van. I headed east, nearly as far east as US roads will allow. I traveled far enough east to get my little van stuck in the sand and watched as the Atlantic tide came within six feet of washing her away. I turned 180 degrees and traveled home, back to the gray sands of the Pacific beaches. Along the way, I had met people from all over the country, I had eye opening conversations with an amazing variety of people who had vastly different perspectives on the world. My own little world had grown by immense proportions, my mind had been opened.
Within days of returning home, airplanes crashed into buildings I didn’t know existed, and everything changed. I did not know that day just how much would change. Immediately I was angry and heartbroken, shocked. For some time I was interrupted in my journey, blinded by patriotism. But, as the war rhetoric ramped up, and the focus shifted to Iraq, my anger turned to sadness. And I began to wonder where the compassion had gone.
I began to reconsider why some would hate us enough to crash airliners full of people into buildings full of people. I just couldn’t buy the argument that they hated us for our freedoms, I suspected it had more to do with our arrogance, and our ignorance.
That opening of my mind could not be closed, I could no longer see the world the same way. I had made a profound journey of 180 degrees. I had stepped out of my own existence to explore the world through others’ ideas of it. I had discovered that Mark Twain was right when he said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” in Innocents Abroad. We can only make profound changes when we are willing to take the journey.
This doesn’t mean we have to get into a car, or get on a train or airplane. There are people all around us who see things differently than we do. Our neighbors, the person behind the counter at the grocery store, the guy on the street with a cardboard sign. Just reach out to those you disagree with, open your mind to the possibility of a profound 180 degree journey in your own view, in your own life, in your own actions. Reach out, and discover how others have come to their views, and question always how you have come to your own.
Because it is time that we open our eyes and accept that we can never make everyone see the world exactly as we do. We can never agree on everything. But we can journey to a common place to stand, united, against the greed, corruption, and war mongering of our current leaders that we all want to change.