Today's conversation refers to a 2014 Ted Talk from Aziz Abu Sarah. He connects tourism to tolerance and we would like to explore this idea.
He explains to be more tolerant of one another we need more tourism. “Also media and education, and you might be wondering, really, can tourism change things? Can it bring down walls? Yes. Tourism is the best sustainable way to bring down those walls and to create a sustainable way of connecting with each other and creating friendships.” Cultural awareness, understanding how people acquire their cultures and the important role in personal identities, is the foundation of that understanding. The appreciation that we are all different and celebrating those differences is where we find the idea of traveling.
Former US President John F. Kennedy also agreed with the idea of tourism creating a better future. “Travel has become one of the great forces for peace and understanding in our time. As people move throughout the world and learn to know each other’s customs and to appreciate the qualities of individuals of each nation, we are building a level of international understanding which can sharply improve the atmosphere for world peace.” He promoted working together despite our differences both culturally and politically. The president even stated, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” Meaning it harms no one and helps everyone.
Traveling helps us to avoid cultural blindness or ignorance which is treating everyone the same way regardless of their cultural background. It is similar to saying one is ‘racially color blind’. This doesn’t validate those who regularly encounter difficulties due to race (and yes, that is still happening today). Colorblindness creates a society that denies negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives. Recognizing cultures addresses race relations and is a start to understanding cultural differences. Travel and education lead to tolerance.
What’s standing in the way? Cultural destructiveness and those who don’t want to see others' differences as something to be celebrated. Cultural destructiveness is characterized by attitudes, policies, structures, and practices within a system or organization that are destructive to a cultural group. Race and ethnic relations have become both social and political. With these two categories, you have people who have ideas that cannot be changed. There is a belief rooted so deep that even travel and education could not change their minds. Denial or prevention of tolerance is devastating to minorities and their allies. Intolerance in society should not be accepted. Although it has been with us for centuries, we address it with even more understanding. We should better understand individuals and other societies creating a collaborative future.
Traveling - not being in your comfort zone - leaves you a bit vulnerable to try new things. Learning a new language, trying new food, getting lost in the best way possible, and meeting new people are all happening simultaneously as you travel. We agree with Aziz Abu Sarah - for more tolerance, we need more tourism!