You know those false images we all have? The ones we know are false, but still use for jokes and assumptions and all kinds of other nuttiness?
You know the ones I’m talking about: rural folks are all inbred morons, city folks are all pampered incompetents, Germans are all evil and nasty, Canadians are all nice, Australians are all drunk…
All of those are illustrations of what I’m talking about….well, except for that last one. That last one is pretty much true.
Here’s one I’m at least as guilty as everyone else in using, if not more so: Americans like to wallow in isolation and ignorance of the rest of the world. Friends of mine in Europe love to point to stats like just 42% of Americans holding passports (compared to 76% in Britain, for instance). Americans, they say, just don’t want to go anywhere, or see anything, that isn’t the US.
Now, as someone who has travelled pretty extensively, I’m gonna call bullshit on that one. As someone who has travelled the length and breadth of Europe, I’m also gonna have to point out something that most of my European friends — especially those who have never been here to the US — like to ignore: America is pretty stinkin’ big.
Look at it like this; I’m about to drive 14 hours to go visit my family.* If you aren’t aware, I now live in Montana, right outside of Yellowstone’s northern boundary, while my family is (mostly) still back “home” in northern Colorado. NoCo is, in terms of the US, right-next-door…fourteen hours away.
*And get yelled at for my recent anti-Trump post, I’m pretty sure. *sigh*
To put that little jaunt into perspective, a fourteen hour drive from London puts you in the Orkneys, for pete’s sake. Want a nice long drive from Berlin? You’ll get to freaking Romania in that same fourteen hours!
Okay, so why do so many Americans never leave North America?
Do you have any idea just how much there is to see?! Add in Canada and Mexico, and I would have to drive a minimum of those same 14 hours in order to reach the “end” of any road (in this case at the Pacific Ocean)!
Travel is about something different for everyone. It’s about different cultures, or different histories, or different scenery. It’s about external activities, or about internal satisfaction. It’s about education, or entertainment, or exploration. It’s about whatever the hell you want it to be about, when you get right down to it.
Now, I’ve made jokes and comments about those who “never want to leave home.” I’m guilty of using that “shorthand” of misguided and foolish assumptions to make a point from time to time, but all you have to do is remember something I talked about a few posts ago. All you have to do is remember that key we writers — we humans — should never lose: perspective.
All that being said, here’s a little perspective for those who wonder why I picked this particular prejudice to make my (admittedly allegorical) point:
Since I haven’t done one in a while, here’s a little musical accompaniment…because you can’t go wrong with a good song!