Are these smart times to be traveling?
I received a message from a friend while here in Turkey, asking me if I was worried about being “safe.”
My first response was to say I feel more secure here than in Paris, where we were just two days before the attacks last November. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not immune to occasional bouts of late-night, jet-lag-induced free-floating anxiety when I am abroad in the world. But in the cold light of day my rational brain takes over, ready to remind me I’ll more likely die in a car crash or be struck by lightning than be slain by terrorists. And that a city/country is safer after an attack (in Turkey’s case, two) because security is tightened (which clearly is the case here).
It also reminds me that the fact many millions of Turks today got up, went to work/school, came home, ate dinner, and spent time with their families isn’t the sort of news that makes headlines. (Just as the fact that today tens of millions of Americans didn’t shoot anyone doesn’t either.)
I think the rationale for continuing to travel to places like Istanbul, Paris, Cairo, etc. extends beyond the probabilities or even the notion that by not going, “they” (the terrorists) will “have won.” Rather, the real reason to go is if I don’t, I will have given in to a primal fear, the same one that—fed by anger, lack of education, poverty, disenfranchisement, and isolation—leads to xenophobic stances that ignore and ultimately destroy our common connection.
The more we engage with the rest of the world, they more we understand it isn’t us-versus-them. It’s just us.