Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Before writing about the mother who threw her disabled baby off a bridge, I thought I understood what this quote meant.
I thought it meant that by traveling I will have the experiences necessary to better myself. I will meet new types of people, appreciate different culture and the struggles they face. I will see there are many “right” ways; my way isn’t the best one to happen to this world.
Now I know that I’m not the only one who is bettered by the experience. I think that it is a two way street. I see and experience new things, but so do the local people who meet a mysterious outsider like me. Suddenly I’m a representative my entire “people”– whatever others perceive that to be, whether is people from my country, with my coloration, education level, my unusual height, with my condition, share my fashion sense, or who thinks FRIENDS was the best sitcom ever, etc. etc. etc.
It’s not just about race and religion! It’s about letting others experience a different way of life through you! You’re example can not only advocate for different abilities, but can open minds. And just like that you’ve become a vanquisher of prejudice!
I think it would be really fantastic to see more people with disabilities travel, not just for their own personal satisfaction, but for the betterment of the world.
If that mother had met an individual with Down Syndrome, leading a full and fulfilling life, maybe she would have chosen to embrace her daughter’s differences instead of tossing them away. She is just one of the many people in this world who Mr. Twain would say sorely need travel.
So if you are considering traveling but are on the fence, just think of it like this…you’d be doing with world a public service. 😉