Imagine seeing these headlines scroll across the bottom of the screen as you watch CNN: “Millions of Moroccans go to work, return home, eat dinner with their families.”
“Tourists visit Jordan’s ancient ruins, take photos.”
“Citizens of Dubai respond to pleasant weather by following their usual routines.”
At a time when the news is dominated by dramatic, scary events, it can be hard to remember that these incidents are still quite rare. For nearly everyone on the planet, ordinary life goes on. Yet we often let fear keep us from living life to the fullest.
In the last couple of months, I’ve been to Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, and I will soon be going to Jordan. These countries have been relatively unscathed by terrorist attacks. Millions of people live there, millions more visit every year,and yet, when I tell some people my plans, they react with concern. We Americans live in a country that is far from immune to violence. But when tragedies occur close to home, they can be strangely less daunting, because we know they’re an anomaly. When they happen in a far-off land, we sometimes fall into the trap of assuming they’re part of daily life there. We write off entire countries on the basis of events in one small area.
When we travel, those illusions fall away with every step down a busy sidewalk, every chat with a taxi driver, every meal at a bustling restaurant. This, not the horrifying acts of violence that occasionally occur, is real life. And that’s why we all need to keep traveling. To remind ourselves and each other that this, the ordinary, is what we all share and should celebrate.