Don’t Let 9/11 Stop You from Traveling

| September 11, 2015

Apparently, today is 9/11. Truth be told, I’d forgotten until I opened Facebook this morning and was blasted with the reminder to never forget.  I forgot because 1) as an expat, I’m not subject to the 24-hour American news cycle; and 2) It is my personal feeling that the more attention Americans give to the day, the more isolationist America becomes.  So, with the exception of explaining the reasoning behind airport security to my 8-year-old, I don’t give it much attention.

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

Yes, it was tragic. Yes, innocent people were killed. Yes, I cry when I watch replays of the news that day. Yes, I remember hashtag-WhereIWas. Yes, I felt the personal effects of 9/11 for years after. But it doesn’t keep me from seeing the world, and it shouldn’t stop you.

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

– Aldous Huxley

What was in my mind when I pictured Lebanon


What I found in Lebanon

lebanon monastery

The Medieval Church of St. John in Byblos, Lebanon

Only by going to a place do you really know what’s going on there.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

-Mark Twain

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from travel–perhaps the singlemost important thing–it’s that people, as human beings, are the same all over the world. People, as human beings, all laugh and cry, get angry and sad, experience confusion and grief. Certainly, cultures differ. People of different cultures may find humor in different things, find sadness in different events, and become frustrated over different situations; but people are people.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

– Gustave Flaubert

Americans should get over themselves. We aren’t more worthy than others. We aren’t the one single grand and enlightened society. America has as many assholes as any other given group or country.

Some of the world’s people are assholes who want to destroy the lives of others. Most of the world’s people are not assholes. Some politicians manipulate a situation in order to gain control, votes, etc. There is most likely a higher percentage of assholes among politicians, than terrorists among any given religious group. So I guess what 9/11 taught me is to pay attention and identify the assholes.

Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

-William Shakespeare, “Julius Ceasar”

And yet, we fear. Our government is not helping the situation, by fostering fear-mongering and confiscating shampoo from the guy standing shoeless and beltless in a full-body scanner at the airport.

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

-Dorothy Thompson

Last month in Barcelona, we ran into a mother and daughter pair from New Jersey. They were about to embark upon a Mediterranean cruise. The mother mentioned that their ship stops at Rome’s nearby port city, Civitavecchia, but she and her daughter weren’t going to Rome–they were going to stay outside of Rome because it was a target for terrorists.

I mean, who wanted to see the Colosseum anyway? Oh, wait–me. So I did.

Because I am not afraid.

Because I am not afraid.

From the US Department of State travel advisory website:

“We issue a Travel Warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all…”

Wow.  Whether I should go to a country at all?  That’s enough to scare anyone.

In Pompeii, in the year 79 AD, this guy was just sitting there, and then Mt. Vesuvius erupted and he was covered in ash. Many Americans remain crippled in the ashes of 9/11.

italy, mt. vesuvius, petrified man

Don’t be that guy.

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

The odds of dying in a terror attack are 1 in 20 million. One in TWENTY MILLION. That shouldn’t stop you from doing anything.

Life comes with no guarantees. None. So, Do whatever it is you feel you should be doing with your life, Love those you love, and Leave your house.

Or, stay home. Lack of demand keeps the price of airfare and lodging down for me.




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Category: Europe, Family Travel, In Germany A Broad blog, Italy, Travel, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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