We are blessed, I think, by living in times that force us to look at how others believe and to respect paths that are totally foreign to us. It is no longer a clear Judeo-Christian populace that surrounds us. If we are to successfully navigate this stream of faith we have to begin by confessing that faith is bigger than any one of us.
Culture, history, and a yearning for what we do not fully comprehend enter into every person’s journey. While we do not have to adopt another culture, we travelers of the world have to respect it. There are times when I wish there was a test before issuing passports. Let me explain.
The ease of travel has opened up formerly unknown worlds. Those who venture there find themselves in contact with cultures of which they have no knowledge. It is so important that we not profane what others see as sacred. It was heart-rending to read of the group of tourists from several European countries who went to Malaysia to climb a mountain. It was not just a height to challenge to the natives of the region. It was their sacred mountain. They were horrified when the climbers stripped off their clothes on the mountaintop and did a nude dance. They felt that sacrilege was involved and they had a duty to atone to the mountain. The earthquake that came on the following day was interpreted by them as the mountain’s reaction. Can you blame them?
Had the mountain climbers known more about the history of the area and not seen that peak as something more to be conquered, they might have felt deeper respect for where they ventured. We all need to do background work before we set out. What should we know about a foreign place beyond the fact that it is exotic? This is where my passport quiz would come in.
I know I have no chance of seeing that come to be, but I do hope that, as our world shrinks, our minds and spirits might grow. Respectful travel and a broadening spirit would benefit everyone. The traveler would not be looked upon as an intruder to be suffered for economic benefit, but as a genuine and respectful student. What a blessing that would be!