One person can not change the world…right? At least that’s what everyone says. Well I happen to disagree. You, alone, may not be able to change the entire world, but you can and do in fact change the world. For every cause there is and effect, a ripple so to speak, so if we each individually, chose to be the change we wanted to see in the world, then we could in fact collectively be the change we wanted to see. The world we live in is the effect of our collective choices. Choose to be kind, choose to love, choose not to discriminate, choose to be good, choose not to pollute the earth because your choices do matter. If we all chose to be all of these things imagine how different our world would be. I am not just talking about the big stuff, I am talking about all of it, from smiling as someone passes you on the street, holding a door open, buying someone a meal who otherwise would have gone without, picking up litter on the side of the road, choosing to speak kind words in place of hurtful words, random acts of kindness. You have a choice…what kind of ripple do you chose to leave?
Okay now that we have that covered, I am going to use this moment to hopefully open a few people up to a different way of thinking. These are a few of the things that have stuck out to me since returning to the United States and frankly make me shake my head. Maybe some of you have never thought to look at them from another perspective to realize how wrong these views, habits and comments are. Please keep an open mind and an open heart when reading this. Remember…be the change you want to see in the world because your choices and actions do make a difference.
- After traveling in many different countries and seeing different ways of life I realized that many of the amenities we, as Americans, are used to are simply a convenience and not a necessity. You would be amazed at what you can adjust to and the things you can easily live without. It has become very difficult for me to listen to all our first world “problems” after seeing life in some of the less fortunate parts of the world. We live in a society of “wants” that we have twisted ourselves into thinking are “needs”. We live in the world of iphones, gameboys, computers, netflix, internet, air conditioning and fastfood just to name a few. A world where children don’t know what imaginations are or how to play outside. Now don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that you should forgo these conveniences, merely appreciate them and recognize them as a convenience and not a necessity (and possibly limit them). Understand how lucky you are to have such conveniences in a world where so many people go without necessities; food, clean water, shoes and a shelter over their head. The world we live in and take for granted is just a fairy tale to so many.
- And my biggest pet peeve since being back in the States is hearing people complain about having Spanish as a language options. Especially when I hear them say “I speak American”, how do you expect anyone to even think about taking you serious when you don’t even know what language you speak. English. You speak English. What you need to realize is that the entire world caters to English speakers, and that pretty much anywhere you go in the world every county will cater to its bordering languages. It is simply a courtesy. Why do Americans expect the entire world to cater to us but think we should not reciprocate? I have never been to Mexico but I would bet my life that they offer English as a language option in most places. I’m sure you (those who find it offensive) would not find it offensive if the roles were reversed. Lets say you are at that resort in Cancun or Cozumel and you sit down for a meal and you are offered an English menu or lets say you actually left the resort and ventured out into the real Mexico and the ATM’s or credit card machines at the store offer an English option. It looks a little different from the other side doesn’t it? Or maybe you even live there and speak Spanish, but English is your native language, it comes easier to you, so you choose the English option instead of the Spanish option. What I am saying is this, there are no rights being taken from you by offering Spanish as an option on a credit card machine, it takes a quarter of a second to select English, its called courtesy and being a good neighbor.
- The Golden Rule, we all know it. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It does not specify “only if they have the same color of skin as you, believe in the same God as you and speak the same language as you”, it simply says “others.” As in everyone. I’m going to throw a hypothetical situation at you; lets say you are traveling, it could be anywhere, so for this little hypothetical we will say Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, so you are walking down the street in Puerto Vallarta how would you expect people to treat you? Smile? Say “Hola”? Maybe even attempt to have a conversation with you? This is what I expect when walking down the street as I am sure you would too. How would it make you feel if people were rude to you, without knowing anything about you, only because you are different? What if it were your daughter or your son? I say this because so often people are to quick to judge. If I were treated while in another country, the way I see and hear others treat people who are of a different race, nationality or religion here in the States, I would have had a completely different experience while I was away, one I would be all to willing to forget. But I didn’t, I met people from all over the world and they were nothing short of friendly and welcoming to me, the outsider. I had people open their homes to me, turn around and walk the opposite direction as they were going to show me my way (without even being able to communicate verbally), exchange friendly conversation and share meals everywhere I went. All I am asking is that before you open your mouth and speak (on something you actually know nothing about and are just assuming….and you know what the say about assuming.) think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed or if it were your child. Would you like someone to say what you are about to say to your son or daughter, without even knowing them or their circumstances? Remember the Golden Rule before you open your mouth to speak.
- We are a wasteful nation, the amount of trash we produce to sickening. We buy more food than we can consume just to throw it out, without thinking twice about it. We use an ungodly amount of plastic bags just to throw them away in a landfill. Instead of fixing what we already have we throw it away and buy new. I hear people frequently say “I don’t need it anymore, I’m just going to throw in away.” Why would you throw something away just because you don’t need it anymore, donate it instead of throwing it away. The next time you go to the grocery store instead of getting plastic bags bring reusable bags or recycle your used plastic bags or carry the birthday card because honestly you do not need a bag for it. Only buy what you will eat so there will be no need to toss food in the trash. Be conscious of your carbon footprint because it too makes a difference. Working at a grocery store I see unnecessary waste all the time, perfectly good food is thrown away, something that was supposed to be in a sale but was misplaced on a shelf or not sold is thrown away, something with a minor defect is thrown away. And then they want to call the police if someone takes something from out of their trash. Why should it matter if someone wants to go through your trash…you put it in the trash so you obviously do not want it. And if someone is in enough need to go though the your trash why would you stop them? My personal opinion is that anything put in the trash that is not actual trash and can still be used despite a defect should be put to the side for anyone who needs it. There are too many people going without to be throwing perfectly good items away.
- I traveled solo for nearly a year and I still come across people who want to lecture me about the dangers of the world and travel…from people who have never seen the world or traveled themselves. It makes me wonder where they are when the news from within our own country is on, do they just zone out through all that? What makes people think the United States is so damn safe and the rest of the world isn’t? You aren’t immune to danger if you stay within the boarders of the United States, you aren’t immune anywhere in the world. So why cut yourself off to the world you have yet to explore. The world is not a bad place, bad things happen but it is not a bad place. Their are far more good, kind and generous people in the world than there are evil people. We, as a human race, simply choose to focus on dark rather than light, giving the illusion that dark outweighs light, this is a total distortion of reality. Choose to focus on the good and not on the bad, its all about your perspective and what you choose to see. The news rarely mentions the good in the world because it doesn’t sell, don’t fall for their gimmicks.
- I repeatedly get disgusted looks from people and asked “Why would you want to go there?” as if there is nothing worth seeing, when traveling to any place other than in Paris or Rome is mentioned. Open your mind and venture out, yes Paris and Rome are amazing but so are Ninh Binh and Conque. There is always something to be seen or experienced in every corner of the world, even more so when you choose to step off the beaten path and take the road less traveled. Discover the hidden gems of the world, don’t just follow the crowds.
The world is a beautiful place full of beautiful people, choose to be one of them (remember your ripple)! Your choices matter.