“My country is the world, my religion to do good.”
There’s a new breed of explorer out there, an adventurous bunch who seeks not a plot of un-chartered earth to place their flag or a more efficient trade route across continents and oceans.
Instead, this new breed of explorer is a global citizen, a person who travels to learn and who learns in order to broaden their world view, reduce misunderstandings and enhance lives, both their own and those of the entire world community. The idea is to explore not only countries and cultures, but the infinite potential for positive change that such travel inherently possesses.
Of course, it must also be mentioned that these explorers certainly have some memorable experiences in the process. They often travel to all corners of the globe, ride on the roofs of buses, search alleys for the best street food, celebrate festivals, visit friends, learn languages where they are spoken, wander through mountains, deserts and jungles, enjoy their beer and crave the thrill of finding themselves outside of their comfort zone, way, way, way outside.
Through all of this, their minds are consumed with how to utilize their travels and human interactions to promote cultural diversity, equality, respect, peace and all of that good stuff.
They aim to transform their adventures into positive action.
Taking positive action does not require a long volunteer stint in a third-world country or a $500 donation to a charity. While those actions certainly do a great deal of good, positive actions come in an infinite number of forms, many of them so incredibly simple:
Shake hands with people and hug them too; listen to what others are trying to tell you; learn languages; build friendships with unlikely friends; travel to places that rarely receive travelers; support local shops and businesses; think and act in an environmentally-friendly manner; face your fears; avoid making rash judgments and generalizations; believe what you personally observe, not what you read; invite family and friends to travel with you; try new things in new places…and the list could continue forever…
DO ALL EXPLORERS TRAVEL?
Not at all. While actual travel certainly enriches the experiences and education, being a global citizen is more a way of thinking, a mind set, than it is a passport full of stamps. These days, anyone can explore the world without actually packing their bags. As long as you believe in using such first-hand education to make a positive impact on this planet, a global citizen you most definitely are.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
During my six week visit to Pakistan in 2004, I found myself being ‘attacked’ by throngs of people everywhere I went. Yet these people did not wish to cause me any bodily harm. They simply wanted to shake my hand and tell me, and in some cases beg me, to inform all of my family and friends around the world that the Pakistani people are not terrorists, that they want peace and happiness just like everyone else. In every region of that country I came across the exact same situations. And so, after I left, I wrote about it, spoke to everyone I knew about my experiences, tried to clarify stereotypes and explain misunderstandings.
At times my words fell on deaf ears, but even if my visit to Pakistan enabled one person to re-think their perspectives and perhaps take on a more respectful view of cultures they know little about, I remain convinced in the power of global exploration. And this is only one minuscule example. Imagine the potential for change when hundreds of thousands of open-minded explorers from around the world, each embarking on their own unique adventures, use the knowledge and wisdom they gain to actively promote a more peaceful and respectful planet.
This never-ending, intertwining web of adventures and interactions has the ability to be more than just a community of travelers. It has the ability to be an influential community of global citizens.
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