Soooo, the world has gone crazy. Like mind-bogglingly, what-the-eff-is-going-on-here-this-can't-be-real-life crazy. And I don't think I'm being overly dramatic when I say this. After seeing everything that's happened in the last two weeks, this feels like the most appropriate reaction.
Let's recap, shall we?
On January 20th, we inaugurated a new president (except in my heart) after what was a very divisive and turbulent election (with perhaps a side of Russian interference). Then, on January 21st, hundreds of thousands of people around the world, mostly women, took part in the Women's March to speak out not only against the new U.S. president and his agenda but also the injustices that women continue to face. I took part in the Women's March in New York City and felt it was an incredibly powerful and positive display of people coming together to stand up for what is right (plus very creative signs).
Then, the first week of the new administration happened. And by happened I mean, the new U.S. president started signing executive actions left and right, all leading up to what is arguably the most explosive and, quite frankly, horrifying executive order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States aka the immigration ban aka the Muslim ban.
However you refer to it, the gist is the same: citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries are banned from entering the United States for the next 90 days and the admission of all refugees is suspended for 120 days.
Well, the world didn't like that. More protests popped up at major U.S. airports, world leaders spoke out and the global condemnation poured in (albeit peppered with some supporters and those who gave vague, noncommittal responses). And this is after Trump declared his plans for that wall he wants to build between the U.S and Mexico.
Let's just pause here for a woosah moment.
So, yes, with all of that going on, I stand by my initial declaration that the world has gone crazy.
So now that we've established the craziness of the world and briefly touched on politics and what are now regular protests lambasting the current administration, what does this have to do with travel? Why am I even bringing this up on a travel blog?
Well, as many travel bloggers will tell you, travel IS political. The act of traveling, the travel industry itself and where we travel to and from all link to politics. Think about our passports, the visas we do or don't need to enter a country, the cities we visit, the activities we take part in and the people we meet — all of this is connected to politics in some shape or form and to think otherwise is not taking the full picture into account.
So, while I would love to just write about the beautiful beaches of the world and where to find amazing food, I feel it would be doing a disservice to this site and to the two people who read it (hey, parents!) if I didn't talk about what's currently happening in our society. It's scary, disheartening and absolutely affects travel in both seen and unforeseen ways.
To use a recent example — this past weekend, I attended the New York Times Travel Show, which is always a great place to meet travel-minded people, hear about upcoming trends (e.g., more personalization) and learn about what's changing in travel. During the keynote presentation, the topic of Mexico came up when the moderator asked the panelists their thoughts on the wall and the potential impact these changes could have. The sentiment was the same across the board – the wall would, of course, strain the relationship between these two countries and that could potentially have negative travel implications. When you add in the proposed tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall, this would ultimately hurt citizens on both sides and could have unforeseen and dangerous residual effects. All of this to say, travel does not exist in a bubble.
Another reason why everything going on with U.S. politics links to travel? We are a globally connected society, whether people like it or not (some clearly don't). To impose a ban against a group of people and prioritize others based on their religion is immoral, discriminatory, unethical and goes against the values of America as well as the core of what travel is about. Travel is not about insulating yourself but about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring a new place and new cultures. It's about learning to empathize with others, not send them away. Not to mention the reasons behind this ban are self-serving and won't actually do anything to help our country.
All of this feels like the tip of the iceberg in terms of why we must ALL be concerned and care about what's happening in the U.S. Much of it is disturbingly similar. As the saying goes: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
To make sure we don't repeat history, we can stay informed, spread awareness, get involved and keep pushing.
Here are a few resources on how to take action:
Do you have any resources or thoughts on what's happening in the U.S.?