Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Peace Train is One Year Old Today

Happy Birthday to The Peace Train. Like so many others, I am participating in the blogswarm to celebrate - and promised Glenda I would write about Peace through Travel.

However, Monday and Tuesday saw a security scare that led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights. This seems to be an ongoing pattern since 9/11/01 - around holiday time, or peak travel periods, both the UK and the USA find some terror plot to foil and thus delay travel. Last September, The TSA issued this edict restricting Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (LAGs) on flights - a relaxation of an earlier, total ban on these same LAGs. I recall having my NARS Lipgloss confiscated as I went through security.

H. L. Mencken once said:
the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

And what better time to scare people than when they are about to get onto an airplane? A confined space, with 300 strangers, hurtling at breakneck speeds through the air. Why, anything could happen to you, right? You could get a variety of diseases. You could be sitting next to the crackpot who thinks he can blow up the plane using shampoo, or a tennis shoe.

Fear is the greatest enemy we have. Fear gives birth to hate, to resentment, to apathy, or to acts of unspeakable violence. Religious fundamentalists fear anyone who does not believe as they do, and lables them infidel or heathen. People with narrow political ideologies fear anyone who disagrees, and labels them unpatriotic. People without education fear "the man" because they are unable to get ahead in the world. Education is power. Knowledge and an open mind are powerful tools. But an open heart is everything.

For me, I find it impossible to hate anyone with whom I have broken bread. I do not hate Muslims - I've eaten at their tables, in Israel, when I lived there. And when my son was 13, my family traveled to Israel again as a Bar Mitzva present to him. One day, in the Old City of Jerusalem, we hired a guide for the day. He was a young Palestinian man, about 20 years old, spoke excellent English, and Hebrew - he was our for the day. He gave us the "non-sanctioned" view, but said that the people wanted a peaceful solution. He said it was the leaders who fueled hatred. Eventually, he left us at a fantastic restaurant - he was ready to go hang out with his friends (we invited him to dinner, but he was 20).

When we left the restaurant, we got lost - and wound up in the Arab Quarter after dark. There was our guide, with a group of about 15 young men his own age. And they walked up to us and said, kindly, that as American Jews, we were in the wrong place after dark - that it was dangerous for us to be in that sector - we could be robbed, or killed, for being rich American Jews. They did not want to do that, so our guide and three of his friends escorted us to the gate where the car park was, bid us good night, and we went back to our hotel.

When I create a trip for one of my clients, I have an underlying hope that they will spend time with local people. I cannot always arrange this in advance; but I do try. I don't do the "sun" destinations - those "package deal" spots that have so degraded local culture that they are "Mini-Miamis". I don't sell Mexico (except the Colonial Cities); I don't send people to the Caribbean; I rarely send folks to Hawaii. I create trips to destinations which are not "Westernized", where local culture remains intact, where people can really find out what it means to be part of this earth. And I have my own favorite places, and places I'm not so fond of.

When a person travels expecting nothing to go awry, they will be disappointed. Travel must leave room for the happy accident. I have clients who, whenever they travel, they keep their hand outstretched in friendship. This is good and bad news for me, because they now have friends everywhere, and it means I do less and less for them - they are always staying with people they've met. On the first trip I did for them, one day a planned excursion was cancelled due to rain. They were at their hotel, and saw another couple who appeared despondent. My clients went over to them and said "Hi, we're T & B, and we're going to rent a car and do our own adventure - join us?" That's what they do. They believe in peace.

I've lived in Israel; I've traveled to six of the seven continents; I've broken bread with local people everywhere I've been. And you know what? We're all the same. We all care about our children. We all care about our home, our neighbors, our community. We all have health concerns. We all want to put food on our tables. We are all the same. So how is it possible that we wind up making war on our brothers and sisters?

If you travel, please travel with an open heart. If you travel, consider the environment, and that your own ways of doing things might be different than someone else's, but your ultimate goals are the same. Don't impose your will, just travel with an open heart and you might be gifted with friendship.

Happy birthday to the Peace Train! Let's all get on it.


Coffee Messiah said...

A "Roger Ebert" thumbs up to ya! ; )

Larry said...

Good article Divajood:

Fear will paralyze a person, or a nation.

The quote thst fits this is:

"What gets your attention, eventually gets you."

proudprogressive said...

I love trains ! got one outside my window in fact. Peace trains i love even more. Keith Olbermann on Countdown is the only newscaster that has the cajones or the freedom to call these idiot security scares for what they are, and how they are timed. Man if NBC would show his hr. of news nightly to the public, the people might cop a clue.

Luckily my relative proverty and desire to boycott airports works out well. I will not subject myself to the trauma of being a "suspect", because i might have a nail clipper with me or some skin lotion. You know those Air Marshalls have quotas and must take names for pay. Something as innocent as taking a picture of a plane landing or taking off, can get you on a watch list. Proposterous.

Ridiculous, the money spent in the so called security industry that makes NO sense at all. What a waste.

Peacechick Mary said...

Oh that volatile lip gloss can make such a mess of lips.

Nice post, Diva and very practical. Peace.

Mary said...

No fear hear and my heart is very open!

Anon-Paranoid said...

I've flown about 5 times in all my 61 years and I will not get a passport.

I will not fly no matter how safe it is. I always say if God wanted man to fly He would have given us wings.

I will say though that your right in the respect that they want to keep us afraid, very afraid.

Hell, they would blow a plane up themselves just to keep us in fear. They can keep there planes and scare tactics along with all else that divides mankind.

It's like you said, people around the world all want the same thing and that is too live in peace.

Good post, take care and ...

God Bless.

DivaJood said...

Coffee, thank you! I appreciate a good "Thumbs Up."

Larry, good quote - it's true. And if we pay attention to peace, that's what we'll get.

ProudProgressive, on a recent trip, my friend had to dump a bottle of water, but got through security with a Swiss Army Knife that went undetected in her carry-on.

Peacechick, I'm confused. What part is practical?

Mary, that's the essential thing to take with!

Anon, the majority of US citizens do not have passports. You are not alone. But you don't have to travel to have an open heart.

bluegrrrrl said...

I love this post, Diva Jood! Thanks for posting it on PT, too...

Here's the comment I made there:

what a great post, Diva Jood!~

Very interesting connection between travel, tourism, and peace--the standard touristy trips never have interested me; never have been to any of those fun in the sun type spots...the local culture and flavor is always what interests me the most. I LOVE what you say about spending time with the local people, about finding it hard to hate or dislike people with whom you have broken bread. When we erect barriers between ourselves and others, when we see others as "the enemy" it is because we have not taken the time to see them for who they are--people just like us.

Thanks for this wonderful addition to the swarm!

Larry said...

As Bush sat in his daddy's compound driking martinis and eating caviar, while 4 U.S soldiers were being blown up in Iraq.

We need peace, and a new President.