Disclaimer: The words I write today have been in my head and on my heart for a long time. This is a more critical piece than usual, so make of it what you will. Tomorrow will return to my usual travel musings – my top eats of the year, to be exact.
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of State issued a worldwide travel alert.
To a seasoned traveler, the idea of issuing a worldwide travel alert is so ridiculous it’s almost funny. (My favorite take on this decision so far is Stephen Colbert’s: “Remember the safety rhyme: if it’s a noun, hit the ground.”)
But it’s also not funny, because it illustrates the reality of the all-too-common reaction to terrorism, that of becoming terrorized.
Terrorism is, of course, horrible, but letting it terrorize me is optional.
Because I love to travel, letting myself be terrorized is an option I choose to ignore. I don’t say this with impudence; of course, I’ll be as careful and respectful as always when I travel.
But honestly? As long as the statistic remains true that I’m more likely to die in a car crash than from just about anything else — murder, terrorism, lightning strikes, snake bites (my own personal fear), you name it — I’ll take my chances. I would far rather die doing something I love like traveling than cowering at home, bored and paranoid.
And yet, the debate between freedom and safety rages on. Would you rather some measure of comfort and protection that also comes with restrictions and perpetual fear, or would you rather autonomy that comes with responsibility, risk, and reward?
That some people are willing to sacrifice their freedom all in the name of safety scares me more than terrorism does, at least currently. Mostly because I know that no matter how tenuous, no matter how much sacrifice it may take to maintain, no matter how much responsibility it may place upon my shoulders, I’m always going to pick freedom. Even when it causes some risk to myself, I’m still going to choose it.
Again, I’m not advocating recklessness. I’m just saying I won’t let something as nebulous, cowardly, and unlikely as terrorism stop me from pursuing my freedoms. And I hope every fellow traveler, and those of you who can see the value of choosing to ignore the fear, will join me. If we all took this stance, terrorism would be even less likely than it already it is.
This is day 9 in the 12 Days of Travel on The Globe Turner. Stop by tomorrow for day 10 of #12DaysofTravel, a series of travel memories from 2015. There will be a post every day ’til Christmas!