I feel this is a topic that needs to be addressed. I rarely respond to people’s political comments as I find it not always the most productive. Last week, I posted multiple photos from the White House, sharing an experience with you that was one of the most honorable, humbling, and surreal of my life. I shared nothing of belief but rather just photos of our Nation’s Capitol.
I was surprised.
And, honestly, quite shocked by some of the remarks made across social — polarizing, rude, and disheartening. I get it, we don’t all believe the same principles in government. Some of us are Republican, others Democrat, and still others somewhere in-between. We have our differences. Differences aside, I think there are more important things when it comes to politics.
I believe mutual respect and love for one another in our words, thoughts, and actions should always trump beliefs.
Travel has taught me a lot about politics. I am not going to say if I swing left or right, as that’s not the point. What I would like to do is share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Politicians are people
I can’t say I have agreed with everything our current or past administration has done. Some of the decisions go against what I believe when it comes to morals and principles. However, at the end of the day, they are people. As I watched President Obama walk across the South Lawn of the White House, and saw the play set he had installed outside the window of the Oval Office so that he could watch his young daughters play, a truth too easily dismissed from afar is undeniable close up: He is a human being in flesh and blood. He starts his day at 6:30am setting out to do the best he can, just like I do. He has an out-standing dinner with his family every single night at 6:30pm that he never misses unless due to travel.
He is a person.
He is a husband. A father. A son. A friend. It is so easy to forget that when we see images in the media and he is talked about on television. You don’t have to agree with him or in fact even believe in him, but at the very least we can (and should) talk about him or any other politician as a person in love and in grace.
2. The ability to vote is a privilege
Some countries do not even have the ability to vote. The fact that as an American you can, is a privilege and should be treated with reverence.
3. The ability to travel is a privilege
When I was in Jordan on a group trip, there was a girl from the Philippines who opened my eyes. We do have a variety of visa restrictions as US citizens but nothing near that of many other countries. Something we can thank our government for. She shared her pain in wanting to come to the USA and how difficult it was because of the limitations set by her government. Before this, I’d never even considered how much of a privilege it is to be able to travel to other countries.
4. You don’t have to agree
Simply put, you never have to agree. No one is asking you to. But you can be kind, you can be respectful, and you can be positive in your words. Traveling with many different people who have very different beliefs in religion and politics has reminded me that I don’t have to agree but I can like and love you just the same. I can have a positive conversation, listen to their opinions, and respond with love and respect.
5. You HAVE the choice
You have the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe — literally. You could believe the chicken or the egg came first, and that’s your God-given right (in the US at least). That’s not the case in many oppressive countries. We are extremely blessed in the US with this freedom. Need us not take it for granted.
6. Travel broadens my perspective
Travel has taught me the importance of always seeking to broaden my perspective. Politics can be very tricky to navigate, and we all handle it differently. I believe it is important to be educated, to have an opinion, and be active in our local and national government. Travel has shown me that our rights as an American are a coveted privilege and a blessing. My travels have drastically shaped my perspectives, and I hope I can impart some of that on you.