Be an advocate for those outside of the US who have no voice here, but are affected by our policies. See our government policy through a lens of how will this impact the poor. Travel forces voters to consider a new twist on “representative” democracy. Whom should your vote represent? Because I've made friends throughout the developing world, my vote is based on more than simply, “Am I better off today than I was four years ago?” Travelers recognize that the results of an election here in the US can have a greater impact on poor people half a world away than it does on middle-class American voters. My travels have taught me that you don't want to be really rich in a desperately poor world. With this in mind, I think of it not as noble or heroic, but simply pragmatic to bring along with me into the voting booth a compassion for the needy. I like to say (naively, I know) that if every American were required to travel abroad before voting, the US would fit more comfortably into this ever-smaller planet.
Share lessons, expect more from your friends, and don't be afraid to ruin dinners by bringing up uncomfortable realities. In a land where the afflicted and the comfortable are kept in different corners, people who connect those two worlds are doing everyone a service. Afflict the comfortable in order to comfort the afflicted. By saying things that upset people so they can declare they'd fight and die for my right to be so stupid, I feel I'm contributing to the fabric of our democracy.
Get involved. After observing alarming trends in other countries, it's easier to extrapolate the similar effects of small developments in your own society — whether it's the impact of a widening gap between rich and poor, a violation of the separation of church and state, the acceptance of a tyranny of the majority, or the loss of personal freedoms. Then, for the good of your community, you understand the importance of becoming active and speaking out to help nip those trends in the bud.
About This Entry
You are reading "Putting Your Global Perspective into Action at Home, Part 1", an entry posted on 28 April 2010 by Rick Steves.