It was said in our Missouri backyard by Mark Twain that Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Rick Steves is knows to us from his PBS programs as the travel authority on Europe. His recent book Travel As a Political Act is taking a different look on sightseeing. Steves presents himself in a new angle – as a social activist. Steves argues that one can't begin to understand the world without experiencing it. He breaks the usual American taboos of discussing politics, money and religion under the premise that if one doesn’t share each other’s ideas, one doesn’t find out about other people opinions which diminishes the opportunity to learn and the possibility to grow. Steves argues that we should look at the view others have of us and travel more thoughtfully. He is in favor of the independent travel, rather than the usual American style of travel, “If it is Tuesday, we must be in Belgium”. Traveling makes us step back from our everyday lives. We return enriched by the experience, appreciating or evaluating the life we have and often adopting new or realizing what we were missing. An independent travel gives one firsthand insight into the problems in the lives of people in other parts of the world. By conversation and interaction one could hear peoples’ opinions and their side of stories firsthand and one might learn alternative perspectives. This way both can learn from each other and contribute toward the betterment of society Nevertheless he tries not to offend the reader by taking the middle ground. He shares his own experiences through a series of encounters which show how travel has shaped his politics and broadened his perspective. One such trip may change our life upon return. In this insightful book one will learn to co-exist in our ever shrinking world.
Apr 7, 2011