The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
“Why do we feel the need to visit the next exotic locale?” asks Froma Harrop in a recent opinion piece in the Arizona Republic. She writes of the fear of missing out that allows people to suffer the rigors of travel, rife with the unexpected delays and other issues that have made getting to and from our desired destinations a much less than desirable experience.
How I could relate to much of what she wrote! There was a time when I wanted to travel everywhere, see everything, meet everybody. But in my “golden” years, living in an area of almost perpetual sunshine, in a community that makes you feel like you’re on permanent vacation, I now savor the opportunity to spend more time enjoying my home and my hobbies. I not only avoid travel irritations, like flight delays or cancellations, traffic jams, not knowing who slept in the bed I now find myself in, etc., I also don’t have the problem of being gone and having to miss out on exciting happenings at home.
When we did travel, my husband Don and I found that the value came not so much from the oohs and ahs at the expected tourist sites, but from getting to know the people who called that place home, to see how they lived, become aware of their wants and needs and, most invaluably, try to understand their worldview. We felt a kinship with people everywhere we went, and that made our trips spiritually meaningful.
In getting to know others, we learned to understand if our worldview differs, there may be good reasons—and we shouldn’t assume that we are right and they are wrong, or vice versa as some might tend to do if they let themselves be carried away by emotions.
The term “worldview” is derived from the German word Weltanschauung, meaning, “a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.”
We normally develop our own worldviews within our family and societal environment. But, the Baha’i writings tell us:
God has not intended man to blindly imitate his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind or the faculty of reasoning by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth; and that which he finds real and true, he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality. The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, pp. 73-74.
Helen Bishop writes, on the topic of the oneness of mankind, that Baha’u’llah:
…proclaimed that superstitions of nationalism and racialism and the separations engendered by class struggle and religious rivalry shall die so that man may live. To a Baha’i world view the oneness of mankind is the fact of creation… No arguments against unity taken for granted by the unschooled or newly fashioned by the educated still in bondage to some party line can invade and split the consciousness born of the most recent Word from God. – The Baha’i World, Volume 9, p. 765.
Mark Twain claimed that:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
While that’s often true, I find that the openness of the individual, as well as the experiences they choose for their sojourn, can make a world of difference.
Those who opt for a tightly scheduled tourist vacation will enjoy beautiful architecture, museums, and other areas of interest—but will find little, if any, chance to interact with the people who live there. Going without a tour guide offers more opportunity to meet and speak with locals, but probably only on a superficial basis. If, however, one stays in a small pension rather than a hotel, or rents a cottage, or perhaps a room with a host family, and then spends time in the places frequented by the area’s residents, they can learn how they live their lives, discuss their views on a variety of topics, find out what brings them joy, what difficulties they face, what they think of current events, and discover that people aren’t all that different. Sometimes friends are made and they enrich each other’s lives.
So do go ahead, travel to all the places on your bucket list, but while you do, make your trip spiritually meaningful by keeping in mind the connectedness and the oneness of the human race. Spend some of your time visiting with the people and seeing how they live. Get to know the village, city, country, etc. on a deeper level. Then return home and teach those you know, especially the young, to see others as part of their extended family, instead of seeing them as foreigners separate from us:
If the vision held by a family is a global one and one of unity—education for a unified world view must begin in the family, where children from the earliest age learn the principle, and the reality, of the organic oneness of humanity. They will accordingly be trained to rid themselves of all kinds of prejudice, whether based on race, religion, sex, class, or nationality. Further, the spiritual and social values they learn will apply not only in the context of the family, but outside in the local and national community, as well as in the world community itself. – Baha’i International Community, Social Integration, February 23, 1987.