Monday 18 July 2016

Keep travelling

We're living in dispiriting times. Watching the news, reading the paper, they're a real downer these days. What I find makes it worse is the idea behind this blog, Only Connect (thanks, EM) so that when people get mown down on the Promenade des Anglais, or a bomb explodes outside the Blue Mosque, or policemen get shot in Louisiana, I don't just read the words and see the pictures on the screen, I can smell the air and feel the sun on my skin. I know that those people running along the road in panic, or lying bleeding on the ground, or suddenly dead, are people just like me, tourists visiting somewhere they liked the look of, to have a good time and discover new things; or are people who simply live there, doing their jobs, going home at the end of the day to their families, their cats, their homes. Or not.

It's a good thing, I think, to see them as actual people, to be able to identify with them and feel their fear and outrage; not just more faceless victims.We really do need to think that way, hard and tiring though it can be in the face of such a relentless onslaught of horrors everywhere around the world. Sympathy and empathy: those are important but rarely mentioned benefits of travel. That's why we shouldn't cop out and stay at home. Go wherever you fancy. Don't cross Turkey off your list. Doing that would not only mean you're depriving yourself of seeing a beautiful, friendly, interesting country unlike any other; but it also means all those people who depend on tourism for their living - like my Insight Vacations Tour Director, Barcin, who keeps posting hopeful photos of lovely places on Instagram - are victimised too. None of us can let terrorism win.*
*Or even random acts of violence, such as the cinema shooting that I've just been reminded happened a year ago in Lafayette, which I've been describing as a friendly, safe-feeling place in my stories about it. Which it is, of course.

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