Traveling Without Assumptions

Destination Freedom group in San Cristobal de las Casas

The ability to accept that all countries and all people are equal is a vital aspect of living in other countries. It’s traveling without assumptions. We are all of us human beings, and just because one country has gone a certain direction socially while another country has gone somewhere else does not make one of those countries inferior to the other. Yes, there are still crimes against humanity to consider, and there are certainly countries with human rights issues that are frowned upon by the global community, but that’s the important thing to remember: we are a global community, not merely “My Country versus Everyone Else”. There is no one country that has the right to dictate terms and policy to the rest of the world.

Just because you can legally drink a beer at the age of 14 in Bulgaria, marry at the age of puberty in Sudan, smoke pot legally in Amsterdam, carry cocaine on you legally in Mexico or have multiple wives in Islamic nations, does not make any of these countries inferior or superior to another. They have merely gone a different evolutionary path on the social scale, and just as much as black skin is no different than white skin or worshiping Jesus is no different than worshiping Allah. The countries that you choose to live in are full of other human beings, just like you and I, equally deserving of respect.

One of the greatest challenges facing travelers is the years of cultural brainwashing they have been submitted to in the form of propaganda throughout their entire lives. Since they were old enough to read they have been bombarded with a steady stream of how dangerous, uneducated, dirty, backwards, immoral, corrupt and inferior the rest of the world is. It starts off small, with little nudges for the children in the form of animated television shows and movies from big names like Disney, and it moves upward from there.

By the time you graduate into adulthood, nearly every form of media you have consumed has been tainted in some way by the Great Machine, whether it’s the magazines and newspapers you read (all controlled by governments with their censorship programs) or the very news that you thought you could trust on the television. And what’s worse is that they openly admit that they have been controlling the flow of information and propaganda to keep people in the dark about international affairs, such as Hilary Clinton talking about how the U.S. is currently failing at holding a monopoly on global flow of information (courtesy of RT.com, March, 2011) and how concerned the government is over the fact that people now have access to non-U.S. sources of news.

Which is one of the reasons so many governments were so keen on trying to pass SOPA when that was all the rage, because impartial news outlets such as RT and Aljazeera have rapidly begun to gain traction in the 21st century with the advent of global Internet. With free, global information comes the ability for people to finally educate themselves without the presence of propaganda. They can read news from places such as RT and Aljazeera and see things presented as true journalism should be; without opinion and from all angles without censorship, which means The West is covered just as impartially as Russia, Pakistan, Mexico or any other country. And more and more the educated masses are beginning to unplug themselves from The Matrix to realize the truth about the world we live in.

Every government in the world does this to some extent or another. It’s where nationalist pride comes from: the mistaken belief that where we were born has any impact whatsoever in how we relate to other human beings on our home, Planet Earth. No matter where you grow up, textbooks tell stories which change slightly depending on the cultural point of view being offered. A textbook covering the Civil War in the United States is very, very different from a textbook covering the American Civil War in a country like Russia, China, Brazil or anywhere else in the world. Every country has a national anthem. Every country has a national flag.

None of it matters. It’s all control, just a way to sway you to vote a certain way, to give money to certain people, to have a certain point of view which is instilled in you from birth. But at the end of the day we all bleed red, we all breathe air, and we all call the same planet HOME. Where you are born, what language you speak, what color your skin is, and what religion or spiritual path you follow, have absolutely no bearing on who you are as a human being. 

You are your own, conscious self, capable of doing anything, being anyone, becoming anything you want to be, and transcending the self-serving nationalist point of view. When you view the entire planet as Home, and every person on it as your brother and sister, equally deserving of respect, brotherhood, love and understanding, when you make that transition you finally become part of The Human Experience.

Traveling without assumptions is the ability to view all human being equally, regardless of where they hail from, where they went to school or what religion/color they are. It means being able to transition from the U.S. into Russia, China, Mexico, South Africa, Bulgaria, Colombia, New Zealand or anywhere else and view those people as your fellow human beings. It means accepting local customs in your host country as your own, because you are there as a guest. When In Rome…

It’s a small world, after all, and we all share it. There’s no room for cultural arrogance or attitudes when you want to be a global citizen. There is only acceptance and traveling without assumptions so you can embrace all people on an equal level. This is the reality you have to embrace if you want to live as a digital nomad, especially in an era where free information is so readily available at the click of a button.

This post originally appeared on February 5th, 2012. It has been revamped with more relevant content. 

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About T.W. Anderson

T.W. Anderson is the founder of the Marginal Boundaries brand. He is the writer, editor, videographer, photographer, and social media guru alongside Cristina Barrios, the other half of the brand. In his spare time, he is the creative director of the Saga of Lucimia, a forthcoming MMORPG from Stormhaven Studios, LLC.

6 Comments

  • Aye, Jennifer: good and bad exist wherever you go, and it’s best to keep an open mind and accept all on equal terms.

  • Jennifer says:

    This is such an interesting topic. I do agree that people’s perspectives are shaped by the media and it’s easy to believe the picture the media paints when you only ever see one side of things. But travel has taught me that there are both good and bad people in the world, no matter where you go. I think we as a people are all just a little too quick to generalize and stereotype.

  • Indeed, Mary. I would actually argue that the ONLY way to break preconceived notions is to get out there in the world and experience cultures firsthand. Without that relevant experience a person will never know The Truth…they only know what they’ve been programmed to believe.

  • It’s such an interesting topic and I think it is an important seed to plant so that others travelling can consciously consider their perspectives, biases and assumptions in regard to other countries and cultures. I think this is particularly true because travel offers the opportunity to question our cultural assumptions up close and in person.

  • “The countries that you choose to live in are full of other human beings, just like you and I, equally deserving of respect.” I like that. I think travel teaches us to respect even more different countries and cultures. We find out about the rest of the world and feel it, see it and realize that these other people are not just numbers and figures at the news on TV.

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