In light of the recent horrific events in Paris, I felt that I needed to say something about how I feel in regards to traveling in this world, where terror seems to be lurking everywhere.
Last year, Jimmy and I traveled with a group to Istanbul. We didn’t tell our parents until we returned because they felt it was a dangerous location.
In fact, it was one of the most amazing trip we have had, where we met some of the most hospitable, beautiful people in the world. I took this photo of a sign in one of the Mosques we visited:
The small text states that “Islam does not teach an exclusive doctrine and it is not meant exclusively for one people.” This was beautiful to read when there was so much fear as a Christian of visiting an Islamic country whose southern border was currently being stormed by radical terrorists who claimed the same faith.
I feel very strongly that we cannot allow hate and fear mongers to affect how we live our lives. It is the same as giving a bully the satisfaction they seek.
Jimmy and I live within 100 miles of the Russian border, that same country that seems to dominate the news for its desire to obtain surrounding land and nuclear weapons. A country that invaded Finland in 1939 and succeeded in shifting the border closer inland. A country where Jimmy and I spent an amazing weekend last December, that we wish to visit again, and that is the home of lovely friends of ours.
My sister sent this post by Rick Steves to me, and I think that it excellently states how I feel. Plus, Rick is pretty much an authority on travel, so listen to him!
This from his Facebook page:
After Friday’s horrifying events in Paris, as we keep the victims and their families in our prayers and marvel at how violent hatred can express itself, it’s natural for those of us with travels coming up to wonder what is the correct response. Let me share my thoughts:
I have two fundamental concerns: what is safe, and what is the appropriate response to terrorism.
About safety, I believe this is an isolated incident. Tomorrow Paris will be no more dangerous than it was the day before that terrible Friday the 13th. I also believe that security in Paris and throughout Europe will be heightened in response to this attack. Remember: There’s an important difference between fear and risk.
About the right response to terrorism, I believe we owe it to the victims of this act not to let the terrorist win by being terrorized. That’s exactly the response they are hoping for. Sure, it’s natural for our emotions to get the best of us. But, especially given the impact of sensational media coverage, we need to respond intelligently and rationally.
In 2004, Madrid suffered a terrorist bombing in its Metro, which killed 191 and injured 1,800. In 2005, London suffered a similar terrorist bombing in its Tube system, killing 52 and injuring 700. These societies tightened their security, got the bad guys, and carried on. Paris will, too.
I’m sure that many Americans will cancel their trips to Paris (a city of 2 million people) or the rest of Europe (a continent of 500 million people), because of an event that killed about 150. As a result, ironically, they’ll be staying home in a country of 320 million people that loses over 30,000 people a year (close to 100 people a day) to gun violence.
Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Paris, the victims, and their loved ones. And it remains my firmly held belief that the best way for Americans to fight terrorism is to keep on traveling.
I currently have a trip planned to Paris with my mother and two sisters for the end of May. I will continue forward with those plans. It will be my sister’s first long trip away from her two small children; she will be continuing with these plans. I would travel to Paris tomorrow if I had a ticket.
A friend of ours just went to Tel Aviv for a week and had a wonderful time.
We will not allow terrorism to restrict our freedom, our thirst for discovery, or our desire to experience the beautiful, kind people that live all over this world.
Traveler’s Tip: For US citizens, please enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). You update them as to your travel locations and the nearest US embassy or consulate will be aware of your presence in the country, if something happens. You will also be informed if there are any dangers in your area, or even what areas to avoid if there are demonstrations, etc.
Please also educate yourself as to the location of your national Embassy when you travel.