Since the election of President Trump, political discussions seem increasingly frequent, with conversations swirling with ideologies, theories, -isms, and so much more. As a general rule, I just keep my mouth shut. Its safer.
Living abroad has opened my mind and developed my perspective on so many issues. The intensive worldview training that my parents gave me as a teen enables me to not only ingest my ever-growing image of the world and all it contains, but to critically process and compare these life experiences against the truth of Scripture and my knowledge of law, history, economics, Literature, the sciences, etc. to form my position on each issue.
What I realized today, however, was that all of these theories pale in comparison to the fact that when I now look at the burgeoning conflict in the Middle East, refugees seeking asylum abroad, soldiers in wars around the world, or even marginalized people groups, that I see humans. I see individuals. I see students I’ve taught. I see friends. Slowly but surely, countries on a map are no longer just arbitrary borders and cities and colors, but homes of the individuals I know and love. Terrorist attacks that go unnoticed by western media affect former students and their families. The Muslim women are my friends. The soldiers fighting on both sides of the wars are men I know. And that changes things.
If I could offer one piece of advice to the next generation, it is to travel. But don’t travel to be a tourist. Travel to build relationships and friendships. Travel to understand cultures different than your own. Travel so that the stories on the news aren’t just news anymore. Travel until there is no longer “us” and “them,” but just “us.” Travel until you see humans, individuals, and friends in the faces of the world.