I have a passionate love affair with travel, and with Europe in particular. I’ve made no secret of my plans to live there, but since the attacks in Paris I am met with, “Oh, are you really sure you want to do that?” and “Well, I’m sure glad you’re in the United States now,” from almost everyone I tell.
The horrific events in Belgium occurred just days after I decided to continue with graduate studies in England. These warnings and concerns got louder, and I could tell people were questioning my sanity.
However, I am going to tell you something that may surprise and even startle you: travel to Europe, and the rest of the world, is more important now than ever before.
There is no denying that it is a scary time; innocent people have lost their lives for absolutely no reason. Being in a crowd or on public transportation can be unnecessarily dangerous. However, closing ourselves off from an entire part of the world is also dangerous. Travel promotes and instills understanding. By shutting ourselves off from it, fear only builds and, in a way, this allows the bad guys to win.
I am not telling you not to be afraid. However, isolation only perpetuates negative feelings, incorrect reports and leaves countries that have experienced a tragedy completely alone.
The fact of the matter is that horrific events can happen anywhere. The truth is, you are more likely to die from a car accident or as the result of gun violence than from a terrorist attack. However, it was not long ago that we felt this close to home during the events of the Boston Marathon bombing. Think of all the support the world showed for this incredible city, and think of how much Bostonians (and the rest of Massachusetts, New England and even the U.S. as a whole) appreciated it.What if everyone else had turned their backs on America after that? While messages of solidarity on social media are truly incredible, they mean nothing if we let fear consume us and allow a city to struggle after it has been targeted.
Let us, as Americans, show our support for Europe. Be cautious, use your brain, but continue to travel. We cannot let this fear cripple us, because the more we close ourselves off from the world, the more we lose.