I’ve recently returned back to Seattle after three years of living abroad. Throughout college, I was fascinated by politics and loved the feeling of being involved in something so much greater than myself. I participated in Occupy Wall Street, but recognized the problem with the movement and the lack of focus and leadership that it had. However, in my three years abroad, politics slipped to the wayside. When you are living in another country, it’s easy to justify your lack of involvement in that countries politics.
I felt it simply wasn’t my place, and to be fair, it probably wasn’t. During my travels, I’ve actually thought that Americans’ reputations were getting better. We elected Obama, after all. When I was living in Seoul, the news of Donald Trump becoming the Republican candidate was simply something to laugh about.
I thought it was a joke.
After watching the news until the election results came down to the point of inevitability, I had a period of intense reflection.
I underestimated the hate, bigotry, and racism that is prevalent in my country. Maybe I come from a West Coast bubble, but I honestly never thought it was possible for this dystopian reality to actually occur. However, the people were hungry for change. Trump promised them that, in however dark a form.
I recently was part of a discussion in a travel group I am a member of, Girls Love Travel. After Trump implemented the Muslim Ban, the comment section was alive with debate. One member posted that our travel group was no place for politics. She thought that it was dampening the mood of the group to see people asking about the ban and providing updates to other members.
I’m sure some feel the same way about me bringing my political stance onto my travel blog and social media. However, I don’t agree with this rationale. What else do we travel for if not to develop a deeper understanding of the world we live in and the people who inhabit it? We travel to build connections. We travel to meet people from all walks of life, and to learn about ourselves though the process. Through travel, we combat this pervasive idea of people we don’t know as being the ‘other.’
‘Travel itself is fatal to bigotry and prejudice.’
Through travel, it is possible to set aside your preconceived notions of the world. Travel and politics are interconnected because ‘politics’ aren’t simply ‘politics’ anymore. I’m not sure they ever have been. Politics can be a matter of life and death. Politics are our choices on the kind of human beings we want to be, and the human beings that we choose to lead our nation. These choices we make now will affect the planet for generations to come.
So many of us are afraid to stand up for what we believe in. We’ve been conditioned to apathy.
But, people are waking up. Myself included.
Why I Won’t Sit Down and Shut Up About Trump
I fear what the future may hold.
I fear we will lose more of our national parks and endangered species in the name of corporate greed.
Through our silence, we condone the oppression of others. Oppressed people don’t owe anything to those that have oppressed them. It is up to us, as Americans who don’t believe in the Trump agenda, to come together and make this better.
I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud of the millions of Americans who have protested, who have called members of their Congress, and who have stood up and said ‘NO MORE.’ I’m proud that there seems to be a movement growing, a glimmer of hope that could potentially change the world for the better.
Now is not the time for silence or complicity.
I will continue to travel, and continue trying to make sense of this crazy world we live in. The only chance any of us have of making this thing any better is if we continue on with love and open-mindedness. We have so much more to gain from exposure rather than disengagement.
We can do better. We can be better.