Traveling has taught me many things. Today I’m sharing one of the biggest lessons.
India, England, Scotland, Egypt, Barbados, Slovenia
When I applied for the job of a flight attendant I was looking forward to meeting all my new colleagues with similar interests. I assumed they will be open-minded people with whom I will share my love of traveling. Soon after starting the job I realized I was surrounded by stereotypes, prejudices and racism. I couldn’t understand how this can happen. Traveling and meeting people from all around the world should give you a greater understanding of different cultures and it should make you more tolerant towards others. Instead, I saw so much hatred, mostly towards one specific nationality. Slowly I noticed that even my once open-minded friends became very hostile towards that nationality. I couldn’t see why they chose this specific nationality. There was only one explanation: herd instinct. Imagine being surrounded by the same bad racist jokes every single day. You either comply or are excluded from a huge community. And by huge I mean more than 20 thousand people! It made me realize that most people are sheep that have a great need to belong to a certain group.
And this goes to all areas of our lives. We just blindly follow everything without ever questioning it. You think I’m weird because I don’t want to have children? Have you ever really thought about your reasons why you want children? I mean REALLY thought about them, before bringing a living being into this world? Ok, something more simple: when you are preparing green beans, are you cutting away both sides of each husk? Why do you do that? Have you ever thought about it? There are countless things that we do without even thinking about it, without asking ourselves why. We just do them because others do them too. I could go on with examples but I don’t want to repeat myself 😊
Argentina, Israel, USA, Slovenia
People always need the distinction between “us” and “them”. Because they think belonging to a group will give them a sense of security and loyalty. But as long as there’s also a “them” this feeling of security cannot exist. Because “they” will always be different from “us”. The things that are different and we don’t understand… well, those things scare us. By labeling we never try to understand, instead we create an even bigger gap between the two groups, and this creates even greater fear. Fear can quickly change into anger and hatred. Trying to understand is the key.
Australia, Egypt, Serbia, USA/Poland, Slovenia
One of the most important things that traveling has taught me is that there’s no “us” and “them”, we are all one. I can say that despite feeling excluded from the community, the job of a flight attendant opened my mind even more. Of course, stereotypes will always be there, some are based on truth and some are not, and some are just very funny jokes. But what I’ve come to realize by meeting people from all over the world, is that deep inside we are all the same. Yes we come from different backgrounds, different environments, families, religions and other circumstances that shape our personalities and culture. Yes some people believe that god is an invisible guy watching them from the sky, and there’s people who believe we all have the possibility to be god. Yes some people will burp straight into your face after they’ve eaten and other people will consider it very rude. But if we removed all that and went straight to the “essence”, to the core, I’m sure we would find the same thing in everyone. I know that all those things are just the surface and below the surface everything is connected. I know that because I can communicate with people and animals without knowing their language, because some things are universal, like a smile. I recently saw a woman after a few months. We have never talked, because we don’t speak the same language, we just communicated with glances and gestures. When I saw her after a long time her eyes told me how genuinely happy she was to see me again and she gave me one of the warmest hugs I received in a long while. We come from very different cultures and backgrounds and maybe if we talked we would disagree on many things. But we are connected on a different level.
USA, Slovenia, India
That’s also the reason why I believe everyone is essentially good. This is a very simplified statement. In our core there’s no good or bad, but for easier understanding, let’s say our true self is good 😊 I believe that when we are born our true self is completely out there, exposed. Over the years it slowly gets covered by all these parental, cultural, educational, religious and other influences. And we can see that if we observe children and compare them to adults. For example, most children will refuse to eat meat if they know it’s actually dead animals. But because of the wide-spread opinion that animals are things, not living beings, by the time these children become adults they think it’s ok to eat them. Once we are adults it takes us a lot of effort to clear all this absurd clutter before coming back to what we were when we were children.
That’s why I believe that when people do bad things, they are just very far away from their true self. It means that life’s circumstances gave them a lot of clutter to cover their core, and the worst their actions, the greater the disconnection from their true self. Everyone is trying to live their lives as best as they can, and everyone is doing what they think is the right thing to do. Even you – you try to live your life according to what you think is right. Does that mean you never did anything wrong?
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m justifying any crime or defending criminals. But by realizing what our actions depend on, I also learned that everyone is trying to do their best in their own way. And that everyone deserves a second chance. We all have the power to clean the clutter, to go inwards and change ourselves. I’ve seen some pretty big changes in some people, including me. Unfortunately, not everyone uses this great power. I also think that understanding why people do some things makes you a better person. It prevents you to act out of hatred, and makes you act out of love.
Egypt, Malta, Italy/Australia, Slovenia
Someone recently told me that I’m living in a fairy tale because of these beliefs. I wouldn’t call it a fairy tale, but I do believe I live a better life by knowing these things. It spares me a lot of anger and hatred, which always hurts ourselves more than it hurts other people.
Fear is the reason for many bad things that are happening in the world and some are taking great advantage of it. Understanding is the key, as it’s the only thing that will destroy fear. Think with your own head and be brave! 😊