Consider an “educational tour” for your next trip (see, for example, Augsburg College's Center for Global Education, www.augsburg.edu/global). Even if you normally wouldn't take a tour, visiting trouble zones with a well-connected organization is safe, makes you an insider, and greatly increases your opportunities for learning. I've taken three such tours, and each has been powerfully educational and inspirational. Educational tourism is a small yet thriving part of the tourism industry, and offers a world of options.
Find ways to translate your new global passions to local needs. Like the bumper sticker says: Think globally…act locally. Travel has taught me the reality of homelessness. After talking with a proud and noble woman like Beatriz in El Salvador — which does more to humanize the reality of poverty than reading a library of great books on the subject — inspires you to action once back home. Thinking creatively, my wife and I took our retirement savings and purchased a small apartment complex that we loaned to the YWCA to use to house local homeless mothers. Now, rather than collect taxable interest, we climb into our warm and secure bed each night knowing that 25 struggling moms and their kids do as well. When you can learn to vicariously enjoy someone else's consumption who's dealing with more basic needs than you are], you are richer for it. With this outlook, helping to provide housing to people in need is simply smarter, more practical, and more gratifying than owning a big yacht. (This can be done on a smaller scale with much less equity, too. For more on this, see www.ricksteves.com/politicalact.)
Find creative ways to humanize our planet while comfortably nestled into your workaday home life. Sweat with the tropics, see developing-world debt as the slavery of the 21st century, and feel the pain of “enemy losses” along with the pain of American losses. Do things — even if only symbolic — in solidarity with people on the front lines of struggles you care about.
Put your money where your ideals are. Know your options for local consumption and personal responsibility. Don't be bullied by non-sustainable cultural norms. You can pay more for your bread to buy it from the person who baked it. You can buy seasonal produce in a way that supports family farms. You can, as a matter of principle, shun things you don't want to support (bottled water, disposable goods, sweatshop imports, and so on). You can use public transit or drive a greener car. Consume as if your patronage helps shapes our future. It does.
About This Entry
You are reading "Putting Your Global Perspective into Action at Home, Part 4", an entry posted on 05 May 2010 by Rick Steves.