April 2009

Changing the world in 5 easy steps – Visit a Different Country

[This is part four of the changing the world in 5 easy steps series]

I’ve come to the conclusion that a great deal of the worlds problems come from people making assumptions about other people’s motives and opinions. And when those people are entire populations of countries that problem compounds quite a bit. A while ago I was talking to a guy, an American, who had a hell of a lot to say about what Europeans thought about Americans, and thus even more about how Americans should act towards and treat Europeans as a whole. This guy fancied himself quite the expert on global relations because he’d been stationed in Germany while in the military and had lived there for about 3 years. Here’s the thing – that was almost 30 years ago and he hadn’t left the US since. However, in his circle of friends he was the most traveled of them all so naturally he was the authority and knew what he was talking about. The only problem is that I, an American who has spent a lot of time in the last 2 years outside of the US, knew he was wrong on just about every single point.

I don’t consider myself an authority on any kind of international relations, but I’ve been places and met people and at least have some first hand experience. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t have that and so it makes it very easy for someone – a biased friend, a news agency with an agenda, or a government trying to push policies – to put forth bad info as truth and people eat it up. When you’ve been somewhere and seen it with your own eyes and talked to the people it makes it much harder for you to swallow an ill informed stance about it. And this doesn’t just apply to Americans – I know Europeans who have traveled to every country that borders theirs but never been on a plane and yet consider themselves well traveled. The world is a big place and there’s a hell of a lot of it most of us have never seen. That’s why I think one of the best things you can do for you, and for the rest of us, is pick a place you haven’t been and go there.

Lost a post…

I just finished writing part 4 of the Change the World series and hit publish. I got a “you aren’t allowed to do that” error and then the post was gone. I’d been working on it for several days and it was about 2,000 words. The draft saved here is one single sentence.


Needless to say, I’m not thrilled with those results. And now I have to rewrite it from scratch. So it might be a little longer before it shows up here. Sorry folks. I’m walking away from my computer now.