When you travel to other parts of the world making sure to spend time to learn about others who have a different religion, world view, or ethnic back ground, you quickly realize that we are all the same; humans who are looking for love, acceptance, and a life with all of our physical needs taken care of.
My take on this comes from traveling all over the United States and 8 other countries that include;
- New York
- New Mexico
- District of Columbia
- West Virginia
- Cote d’Ivoire
Myths, confusion and some crazy beliefs about others seems more common than the desire to make sure the world is at peace. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to sit with someone who has limited travel to learn what they think a person from the West Coast of the United States is like and to ask if some of the myths I have heard about them has any validity. My stories will include some of these myths I learned about with some being half truth but most having zero basis in reality. Desire to be loved and to love ties us together more than anyone could ever imagine.
Now for my list of favorites places, places I have no desire to return to, places I would want to grow up in, places with the best food and place I learned the most in.
- Favorite Country to Visit: Anyone who knows me, knows I fell in love with India on my first visit and it was not because of the TaJ Mahal, the cheap shopping or amazing history, but because of the amazing people who live there. In all my travels, I have never been to a place that has so many different religions and point of views mixed within their society that work so well. Everywhere I went I was met with kindness and open arms allowing me to make new friends that I will never forget.
- Favorite State to Visit: While not officially a state, District of Columbia was amazing for the history, museums, and the opportunity to see how our government works first hand.
- Country I Would Want To Grow Up In: The love of family is evident no matter where you go in the world, but in Mexico families seem to take it to the next level. I have never seen Moms and Dads work so hard to feed their families while oldest siblings and grandparents took care of the babies. Everyone is a cousin or some sort of relative to one another, and as I understood it, that meant you gave your last dime or worked on your days off just so someone else could live better. If we all lived this way, suffering around the globe would disappear overnight.
- State I Would Want To Grow Up In: California, Oregon or Colorado all seem like great states to grow up in thanks to good schools and opportunity regardless of political or religious beliefs.
- Country That One Visit Is All I Need: Until they become more stable politically, I have no desire to go back to Guinea or Cote d’Ivoire. My heart hurts for the great people and families I met there who have to deal with the constant instability and if I ran the world I would do all I could to stop it, but for now the corrupt governments and instability just make it to risky.
- State That One Visit Is All I Need: While there are states I enjoy visiting more than others, there is not a state without great history and people. Yes, people in New York or Pennsylvania tend to be more curt than I am used to as a Californian, and the Southern states tend to be more conservative than I am used to, but those that live there are still full of great love and big hearts.
- Country With My Favorite Food: I have joked that when I die, if God tells me he is sending me back to do it again, I would ask to be born in Mexico for the food. I have yet to eat ethnic food of any culture that I have not liked, I just happen to be a big fan of Mexican food.
- State With My Favorite Food: Oregon has my favorite food, not because they have fancy high end restaurants with world renowned chefs, but because they have food booths ran by local individuals with unique foods that you will find nowhere else in the world. There is nothing like spending some time in Powell’s Book store in downtown Portland looking for that book no one else carries, then heading out to a food cart that is ran by someone local who has spent years to create a uniquely Portland meal for your lunch or dinner.
- Country I Learned The Most In: Having grown up in an area with a limited number of Muslims and in a state with limited government corruption that I knew of with parents who taught tolerance and acceptance, I can say, without a doubt, that I learned more about the world while in Guinea than any other place I have been. In short I learned how much compassion and love those who are Muslim have, I learned how prejudice and mean those in the Western Culture can be to people in developing nations, and I learned how deep and wide government corruption runs worldwide, including the United States.
- State I Learned The Most In: Though it was a short trip, my trip to Missouri opened up my eyes to the struggles seen throughout the middle of the county. TV shows like The Middle can give you some insight, but going there gives you true connection with the love, kindness, family warmth along with struggles of those in the center of the United States. As you drive through Missouri, and the states around it, you can see how it appears they have been left out of our countries great progress in the past 30 years as we continue to move away from a country that relies on factories and mining for employment. Luckily that doesn’t seem to to have stopped the dreams, hope and love that the communities and people exude.
While I have strong opinions about the places I have been, I strongly recommend packing your bags and getting out there to experience the world yourself. The national news channels are wrong, the world is full of loving, caring, gentle and curious people that make great friends regardless of who they sleep with, what religion they have or do not have, who they associate with politically, what type of clothing or style they prefer, how much money they do or do not have, or what state or country they are from. They are just like me and you, they have prejudices based on the news they watch, the friends they have made, the families they grew up in, their religious and political leaders, and their lack of interaction with others who are different. Learning about the similarities and differences first hand will only help grow your appreciation for God’s love of everyone.
Do you have any myths about a Californian or Oregonian? What prejudice do you think people have about you?