Friday, July 12, 2013

Traveling the Country is an Act of Patriotism

motorcycle road trip
Sash said something to me the other day that really made me think.  It was about taking road trips, such as the six-month trip we're doing now.

"Traveling across the country is an expression of patriotism.  Spending the time and energy to see, hear, and learn about your country is something every person owes to their fellow man."

For example, can any of us take a stand on an issue if we haven't bothered to understand it fully?  Can any of us speak intelligently about our country if we haven't even bothered to visit it and understand it?

There was a time when people only understood their country so far as they were able to ride their horse.  Otherwise, they had to rely on reading a newspaper.  Today, we rely on watching television, checking Facebook, and sending text messages to get the country's pulse.

Yesterday, Sash and I were talking about racism.

The subject came up because we had spent a week in Memphis, where blacks comprise 64% of the population.  We were served food by blacks, we were entertained by blacks, we visited a slave history museum where the tour guides were black, we even went to a barber shop and got our hair cut by blacks.  Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by blacks.

Otherwise, if you just look at YouTube videos of Memphis, you might not understand this.  Oh, you might understand there are lot of blacks in Memphis, but you won't feel the isolation, and you won't feel the eyeballs staring at you, until you are there.

It's not to say, however, Memphis is a bad situation.  It's not.  I found that the blacks there are far more friendly and mannered than in Southern California.  And I think it's that way because in Memphis, blacks feel more at ease.  In Southern California, they feel just like me, isolated and stared at.

You won't understand that until you travel.

And when you consider Memphians are our fellow Americans, then it's patriotic to go there and understand them.

Racism today is not about hatred or disrespect, not like it was a couple hundred years ago.  Today, it's about fear.

It was interesting to note how black Memphis and how white Nashville are, yet the two cities are only 200 miles apart.  It's not to say that these people should do better job of mixing together.  No, they should live where they want to.  But Americans at large should visit both cities and make the attempt to understand the two.  Otherwise, you'll never be able to render an opinion or cast a vote with any lick of sense.

The "melting pot" we were taught in school during the 1970s (I presume kids are still being taught about it today), is never going to be the melting pot we like to think of it as, until we get out of comfort zones and put ourselves in other places of the country.

That's a patriotic duty.

  

5 comments:

  1. Well said. I have never fully understood why people have to be called African American or Indo American or Latino American. Why can't we all be called Americans? If we were born here we are American no matter your heritage. How can we be closer as a nation if we still divide ourselves?

    I am half Norwegian but I don't work that into who I am. Maybe because my skin is white I don't feel the need.

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    1. I've never understood that either. I was born in America and am American.

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  2. My mother was full German and my father full Irish. I don't say I'm German/Irish American. I'm American...the German and Irish are just my heritage. My great, grand parents lived that life and I'm proud of their accomplishments and how hard they worked for a better life for themselves and all generations to come, but equally proud that I am truly an American, born of very strong immigrants who saw this country as an opportunity and privilege to be a part of.

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  3. “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/Samuel Clements

    ... I take it a step farther. Isn't it imposing a bit of prejudice to label ourselves "American"? I prefer to be like a guiding favorite of mine, Gus McCrae. "Just a man, Free on the Earth."

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  4. I remember once hearing that America was not so much a melting pot as a mixed salad. All those wonderful unique things making something something better than themselves. The individual favors remain but the total taste is truly something to behold.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)