Truths That Transcend Differences aka Gifts Travel Has Given Me

The world is filled with billions of people, millions of stories (129,864,880 books published today to be exact according to Google (oh Google!), hundreds of thousands of foods, thousands of religions and languages, nearly 200 countries, and seven continents; which basically means…differences! Differences abound! In the past 10 years, through the blessing of travel, I’ve seen those differences firsthand, especially now that I am living abroad. From California to Japan, Palestine to the Philippines, from Greece to Thailand, Korea to New York – long story short, things are done differently, seen differently. America emphasizes and celebrates the individual while Japan celebrates community, both of which are important when done with reason. Still, despite vast differences, I’ve come to realize there are still things – truths – that transcend race, culture, ethnicity, nationality, heritage, even identity. Little by little, whether I was traveling in the ancient richness of Rome or the rural islands of Phuket, I began to collect these truths until I realized that they were the same no matter where I was in the world. That these truths – despite our differences – unify us into a singular unit – that which is humanity, the human race. These are those truths:

Everyone:

– feels / has feelings
– is afraid of something / has insecurities
– wants to feel loved / appreciated / noticed / acknowledged / seen
– makes mistakes and has shortcomings / can benefit from self-improvement
– has hopes and dreams
– has been or felt hurt, and has lost something (though in varying degrees)
– dies
– has basic needs, especially the right to dignity

One can very well realize these living in one place, but perhaps I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for travel. There’s something affirming about experiencing these truths amid contrasting backgrounds, with different kinds of people who believe different kinds of things, who acts and talks and dresses differently, and yet, we aren’t so different after all. During my travels to Palestine, I met and got to know a young girl, though briefly. We were worlds apart and yet she hoped like I did, felt loss like I did, and though she was Muslim (and I, Christian), she believed fiercely like I did. History is unfortunately plagued with wars simply due to differences and one’s belief in the superiority of “their difference” (hence the unfortunate reality of racism, bigotry, etc.), but here in sandy Palestine, with this passionate fellow citizen of the world, was proof that differences can coexist in peace for it is the human experience that unifies us, transcending any such differences.

Thus, with these truths I’ve come to know, I am sincerely trying to strengthen my resolve in the following. When I die, let it be known that I gave my best in:

– not hurting anyone intentionally
– helping others rise above their fears and insecurities by being positive and hopeful, despite my own afflictions
– making others feel loved and appreciated because they really are, even if the world doesn’t seem to affirm it
– always forgiving and being merciful
– helping others realize their hopes and dreams, and providing encouragement to achieve them
– providing healing the best I can and through prayer
– helping others live more purposefully so as to not fear death
– living a life of service by doing and giving what I can, by embodying sacrificial love the best I can

The world is a big place and there is much to learn still, but let these truths give a heightened awareness of our shared humanity, and guide us in our actions and reactions. Yes, we are different, but we are also the same. We are all the children of God. I am no better than you, and you are no better than me. A doctor “living the life” (I put quotes on that because people have different ideas of what living the life is) in Bali is no better than a homeless man living in the slums of San Francisco. We are all the children of God. We all came into this world the same way, and we will all leave it the same way. “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Realizing and experiencing these truths are the gifts travel has given me.

image

image

image

image

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s