Travel as a Political Act
Introduction: 1.The notion of travel that still persists is the relative affluence of wealthy travelers (Americans) who only seek the doctrine of pleasure.I believe overseas travel should be an understanding of different cultures, even educational.
I’ve had the privilege to travel to Norway, Germany, France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Guam. Some of my travel was in early adolescents and my understanding of different cultures was drastically different. I expected life to be as it was in the United States with all the amenities we take for granted.
Just last year in December, my job took me to Germany and France. I made sure to research there culture and customs concerning food, manners, and restaurants… etc. I even tried to learn some German and French. The conveniences I desired as an adolescent where all the comforts of home, T. V. , water, video games and “American food”. As an adult my conveniences are more practical and hopefully simplistic, clean water (without bubbles) a clean place to sleep and a few electrical outlets to plug in all my devices. 2. I believe Steves is making a generalization of the modern traveler.
Steves has traveled all over and experienced many cultures and ethnicities. To me, Steves is telling us that he has “seen it all” and has a respect for others culture. 3. Steves defines good citizenship as, “Holding our country to a high standard and searching for ways to better live up to it lofty ideals. ” Yes, it is okay to criticize our country. If we do not question and critic ourselves, we do not leave much room to grow and improve. Yes, we can learn from other nations. My observation in some of the countries I’ve visited is, they are better at recycling then we are. This is an opportunity to learn from another nation.
Chapter 1 1. Elected leaders of today have no more of a connection then those “divinely ordained” kings did centuries ago. The example presented form a political office often differs from when they were campaigning. There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy in our politics. 2. “Travel challenges truths that we were raised thinking were self-evident and God-given” (pp. 5). We learn that other cultures and ethnicities do things differently according to religion, food…etc. 3. Looking out over the action, with Pillars of Hercules in the misty Moroccan distance is where Steves says two great civilizations came together.
I would love to see Christianity and Islam co-existing in peace, but as he said before, this is nothing new. From my perspective, Islam was birthed from Christianity and there can only be one true God and that is through Jesus. Ultimately there will always be a battle until the new heaven and earth. 4. Fear is often a barrier to travel. Fear is not a factor in my willingness to travel. I believe we all should get out of our comfort zones and experience something different. 5. Americans would benefit most from international travel. Learning about the world and coming home with a new perspective 6.
Steves learned that there are more Lutherans in Namibia then in the US. I don’t think it affects my perspective at all. If anything, my thinking brings me to spreading the gospel of Jesus and how many people are lost. Chapter 2-Lessons from the Former Yugoslavia: After the War 7. Ethnicities that exist in the former Yugoslavia are all South Slavs. The difference between them is what they choose to call themselves according to what religion they associate with. Catholic South Slavs are called Croats; Orthodox South Slavs are called Serbs; and Muslim South Slavs are called Bosniaks.
In 1995 they laid down their arms and agreed to a peace agreement. According to Steves it is a slow progression each year. (pp. 28) It takes time to heal but all three countries are on the mend by putting aside their political and ethnic differences. 8. Home mortgages ceased to exist after the civil war ended. There is confusion on who owns what. Many surviving companies do not have money and the bank of Yugoslavia, which held the many of the mortgages is gone. The economic cost after the war still has a major affect concerning commerce, tourism and the ability to rebuild. 9.
The effect of the “iconostasis” in the church Steve visited is to separate the common worshippers from “heavy lifting” priests. It gives them a sense of privacy. There shouldn’t be that much privacy between the religious leaders and the common worshiper. Jesus was very approachable. There is a certain humanistic ritual that comes with religion, in elevating the teacher or priest. I believe this is unnecessary. My pastor is very approachable. We are encouraged to get involved with many ministries within and outside of the church. It would be very difficult to be part of a church where your leadership was unapproachable.
Chapter 3-Europe Unites: Successes & Struggles 10. 10. The big news in Europe today is Unification. Since the Unification of the 27 European countries they have opened up a free trade zone which promotes a competitive market along side the U. S and the up and coming powers of China and India. Benefits of the European Union come from high taxes. There is a much hire expectation of their big government to provide an extensive welfare network. This includes, childcare, healthcare, education, and retirement. In conclusion, I believe the benefits of their big government are well organized programs that benefit society as a whole. 1. Steves maintains that all societies have socialistic elements. I agree with Rick to a certain point. We (America) are a very well run Republic. I’d like to think that I would be open to more progressive policies in our country. So far, our in-class discussions and this book have shown me that we can learn from other countries and possibly adapt their policies to fit our style of government.The beauty of our constitution is it is meant to be adaptable. 12. Steves says, “In America we believe in government by and for the people through the corporations that we own. ” Corporations in America do have a lot of influence and power.
This can have a positive or negative influence. I believe it is there right to have choices. We are only as good as our ethics. Unfortunately we have seen many large corporations fail because of bad business ethics. As far as the Supreme court ruling concerning corporations and their ability to contribute unlimited funds to political campaign; I believe is a privilege. I do not know the intricacies of this policy, but with my limited knowledge, they have earned the right to give as much or as little as they please. Everything comes back to business ethics and morals in my opinion.
Great power and wealth also comes with greater responsibility. The ability to choose is what makes our country unique. The ability and privilege to choose is healthy. The outcomes of our decisions are what hinder or help. 13. Europeans work 25 percent fewer ours then we do. Americans work more hours at their jobs than Europeans because of cultural differences. The, “American Dream” is to work as much as possible to achieve more, financially and materialistically. 14. Steves maintains that Europeans prefer diplomacy to war, because of their interdependence on each other financially.
I do not believe that we as Americans are to eager to go to war. Steves mentions that America has a unique position in the world as its “protector”. I believe this has become Americas default. If another country is suffering or looking for help, America has been the military presence. If anything, we over extend our resources. Many of my family members have served in our military or are closely affiliated with other government agencies. I fully believe that we as regular citizens do not know what goes on enough to truly have an objective opinion concerning many of the wars we are involved in. 15.
Steves took it upon himself after feeling oppressed, to speak with the local lions club president in his hometown concerning the numerous flags set out. When they did not take down their flags Steves took it upon himself to start removing the flags. I strongly disagree with what Steves did. For him to compare us flying our flag to the Nazi oppression concerning the “Gruss Gott” or even the Northern Ireland cause is ignorance. I believe the majority of this nation fly our flag in support of our troops and not towards a political affiliation. I also believe it is our right to fly our flag anytime especially in time of war.
It shows pride toward our country and support of our troops and the freedom they fight for. Regardless of political affiliation, I feel it is insecurity that allowed him to proceed the way he did. That is also the beauty of our country. He can do what he did because our troops defend his rights as well. 16. Steves says we put a guilt trip on Europe in saying, “ Don’t they remember how we saved them from the Nazis? ” Hopefully, we are making an impact on countries, to where they don’t feel obligated but want to take our side. I would like to think they wouldn’t think twice about siding with us. 7. Steves says, he “loves America more. And because I care about our society, I challenge us to do better. ” I don’t think it is fair to tell anyone to leave. I think it is more of an irrational emotional reaction. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve thought about saying that to someone in a political position or even thought while reading this book about Steves. But I know that it comes from an irrational part of my brain. I agree with Steves in that, we need to find common ground and could learn from Europe and some of their policies. Chapter 4 Resurrection in El Slavador 18.
Steve’s points out that the minimum wage is $1. 00 in El Salvador. Minimum wage in America is usually a starting point where as the indigenous people of El Salvador “only aspire to the minimum wage…and that’s all they get”. I think our minimum wage should increase with inflation. Many of our resources go up such as, groceries, rent, gas…etc. So it only makes sense that minimum wage go up as well. A “living wage” ideally sounds like a great. The problem with a set living wage is the affect it could have on independent businesses. A higher wage could contribute to higher unemployment.
Employers may not be willing to higher as many people in order to make a profit. I’ve contradicted myself somewhat with my desire for an increased minimum wage. All that to say, it is a tough job to figure out. 19. 20. Globalization is defined as; the growth of interregional and worldwide linkages and the changes these linkages are bringing about. According to Steve’s, the driving force is, naked ambition to open new markets to firms and products. Altruism is defined as the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. Altruism is demonstrated in my life through giving.
I currently sponsor two World Vision children. Hopefully at the end of my college education I can help better lives even further. My ultimate goal is to help others through the skills and education Trevecca will provide. 21. Steve’s says that he is not anti-globalization. He is anti-bad globalization. Steve’s believes that if globalization is implemented thoughtfully compassionately it can be the salvation of the developing world. Rick believes we have an obligation to be responsible. I agree that we have an obligation to be responsible. The role of the wealthy in our world is to continue to become wealthy. 22.
Rick believes that our leadership manipulated our national grief to justify our actions in war. Rick believes that with the overwhelming sympathy from other nations we could have lifted the world into an unprecedented unity. I don’t think America could have done anything differently after 9/11. As Rick mentioned before, we haven’t had any conflicts hit American soil. In my opinion, a conflict reached our soil, and we reacted. 23. Steve’s quotes comes from Mathew 25: 35-46. I believe Steve’s is correct in these verses. Our responsibility as Christians with regards to poverty is what the verse in Mathew projects.
Christians and the church as a whole can improve poverty. I recently, made a career change from Tour Manager in the Christian Music Industry to full time student. A large influence was because of an organization called World Vision and a book written by its CEO . “The Hole in our Gospel“ A paraphrased quote that had a large impact on me says…. ”We have expansive, beautiful church buildings, huge choirs and the best praise and worship bands anywhere, but if all that is playing so loudly that it’s drowning out the cries of hundreds of thousands of suffering children all over the world.
Then there is a hole in the gospel we are preaching here in America. ” We are guilty of being a “me” society and need to improve our resources to the poverty in our country and the world. Chapter 5-Denmark: Highly Taxed & Highly Content 24. Rick states, they have an efficient train system and many Danes will never get around to buying a car. I believe we have to depend on our cars especially in more rural/ suburban areas. We do not have an effective transit system in many parts of the country. We are a society that does not provide sidewalks, or mass transit; in general we are not pedestrian friendly.
We would need to build more mass transit station and less High ways. The best solution thus far is HOV lanes and carpooling. 25. Danes are more reliant on government then large corporations. They prefer to hold their government to a high standard and expect the elected officials to do their job. In my limited knowledge I would say; Yes, we may give too much power to corporations but that is what our government is for. (Ex: monopolies) Government and corporations should balance one another. The proper role of our government is to uphold our constitution and liberties.
The federal government is to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to our Posterity and ourselves. I think Ronald Reagan said it best during his First Inaugural Address: “We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around. Our government has no power except that granted by the people, and this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. ” 26. I believe the “free rider” problem in the USA today is our social welfare system.
This means that people take advantage of a government program that is meant to help lift you out of poverty rather then keep you in poverty. We are a society with an entitlement attitude. Americans take advantage of the system specifically through our welfare system. If you remember a show on MTV called cribs, they had a well known rapper who obviously made money then the allotted figure in the welfare system but was still being afforded a welfare check and food stamps. Without conviction he flaunted this on national t. v. Unfortunately this still happens today.
This shows that a government program intended to help those in need is being taken advantage of and is broken. I thought of poor people and our broken welfare system. Now that I read this question our system is broken in ethics concerning corporate America as well. I’m not sure there is an explanation as to why I thought of the poor over the rich. 27. Taxes in Denmark are extremely high. Regular workers pay up to 50% in taxes and the wealthy pay up to 70% in taxes. There collective decision is based on what is best for society verses the individual. I don’t think we should model Denmark’s taxation policy.
I think we need to fix ours. Our system has worked in the past and is what has made us unique as a country. We are a world power because of our unique economy not only because of our military. 28. The system for owning a car in Denmark is ridiculously expensive. If you are to buy a vehicle the cost and fees add up to buying 3 cars. This would not work in the USA. We rely to heavily on our vehicles for something like this to work. 29. Danes as a whole seem to not support marijuana. I do not believe we should legalize marijuana. We already have many vices that contribute to our society…ie alcohol and tobacco.
Colorado is already having many issues on how to handle their legalization of the drug. I do not think there are any pros to adding to legalizing Marijuana. If I had to think of a pro, it would be to help generate revenue for the economy. Over all the disadvantages of legalizing this drug out way any positives. Regulation of outside distribution of the drug, affects it has on an individual, study’s show it kills brains cells over long periods of using. Colorado is already having problematic debates on where to grow and use the drug is acceptable. Chapter 6-Turkey & Morocco: Sampling secular Islam 0. One man keeps the Quran, Torah and Bible in his “Quran bag”. I believe we can and should get along with other religions. We should love people where they are. Christ calls us to love God and love people. The only way to affectively love and share truth is in love and relationship. I truly believe us as followers of Christ are all disciples and are responsible for representing Christ the best way possible. I deal with non-Christians the same way I would anyone else, with love. The best way to deal with Jews and Muslims again, is to love them where they are. 31.
The evidence that Steves presents that Turkey maybe lurching into Islamic fundamentalism and theocracy are women in public wearing the traditional headdress and walking behind men. He also noticed/felt disdained as he walked down the street, as if everyone should be praying and not out and about. I feel that our country was founded on Christian principles. In many ways we are a Christian nation. I believe our founding fathers intended this country to be free from religious persecution concerning the way they worshiped in their Christian beliefs. It is my opinion that we should be a God fearing Christian nation.
We can still be a Christian nation and accept other people and the way they choose to worship. 32. Islamist are the expansionist/extremist and are afraid of the very existence of Israel. Islamic’s are the opposite. Truly, in my heart I do not feel any ill will toward Muslims. I see them as people just the same as you and I. The reason I feel this way is because of the love God has for us. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I often think they are wrong in their belief, and it is our job as Christians to lovingly start a conversation with them and hopefully share our beliefs. The problem is noted in this book.
They believe Muhammad is the one true god. Steves friend also says, “Christendom should be threatened by Islam only if the Christian West seeks Empire here”. 33. Steves says there are advantages and disadvantages to a guided travel tour. He almost seems disappointed in the advice given in one of his books because of the fear seen on his trip to Morocco. Advantages of a guided tour are to see and experience landmarks and history behind a certain traveled area. Cons would be only experiencing the Touristy areas which are usually overpriced. I personally would prefer to visit another country on my own or with a local.
I feel that is where you learn and experience the most. Although you are still a tourist you don’t stand out as much. Chapter 7-Eurpoe: Not “Hard on Drugs” or “Soft on Drugs”…but Smart on Drugs 34. Most European nations have in common is the emphasis on education and prevention. Thinking back to my middle school and high school days. My thoughts on drug education were; it’s a joke. D. A. R. E. was the education tool used and was implemented in my elementary school. There weren’t any preventative measures in middle school or high school while I was in school. 35. Marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands.
The Dutch take a more relaxed approach. There belief on Marijuana is as soon as you criminalize something; you lose any ability to regulate it. So they tolerate recreational pot smoking until it is harmful to themselves and others. I don’t really have an opinion on pot coffee shops in the Netherlands. What works for some may not work for others. I think it might be difficult to travel to the Netherlands and enjoy coffee if pot is there as well. I don’ think this would work very well in the U. S. We are not a society that approves of pot, and pot smoking is usually associated with harder drugs here. 36.
Roughly 18,000 die of drug overdose in the U. S according to 2007 UN drug report. Looking at the statistics concerning the Dutch and Switzerland approach on hard drugs, I think it could work in the U. S. It would be something that would take time and diligence on private organization and government. The obstacles I see are our current healthcare debacle and recession. Chapter 8-Mission: Understand Iran 37. Steves had been giving his taxi driver a “thumbs up” when they had a good film take. His driver finally informed him he was mispronouncing his name and that giving someone a “thumbs up” was like giving them the middle finger.
In my personal experience, reading about the culture before you visit is a huge help. Knowing currency, rate of exchange, tipping servers and even some food knowledge can go a long way. Try to understand and speak a little of their language. Most people are grateful you made an effort to speak there language. 38. Men and women squat when they urinate because they believe you do not get rid of your urine when you stand up. It is an overall Muslim religious conviction. I would definitely have some trouble in a place that did not have a toilet or toilet paper. I don’t think it would prevent me from visiting.
It would just be difficult to deal with. 39. The dress code at the university was very strict and conforming. I think that we all need a little guidance. Dress codes help keep some order and moral decency. All within reason. I don’t feel the dress code at Trevecca affects me in any way. I think it is fine. 40. Steves said he was disheartened by the conformity imposed at the University of Tehran. The proper role of a university professor/instructor at Trevecca is to teach and inform the students on a certain subject. I think if, it is relevant to the class we should be challenged to use our brains concerning opposing views or ideas.
I don’t believe we should only look at one point of view. As for the Nazarene point of view we can learn about this specific view point but should also be challenged to see other viewpoints. 41. Brightly colored banners translated to “Death to Israel” where posted throughout the Mosque. If the police or some other group were there to “keep order” I would feel violated. Definitely grateful for our freedom of religion. 42. Steves says that the segregation among the males and females contributes to the negative image many of the Western Christians have of Islam.
In some legalistic Christian churches women have to dress a certain way and in other situations, women do not have certain authority to “preach”. 43. The U. S. supported Iraq against Iran in the 1980’s. It does a little. Overall I would need to research more and find out why we backed Iraq. Then I could come to a better-educated thought. 44. Steves says, “…travel can be a powerful force for peace. Travel promotes understanding at the expense of fear. And understanding bridges conflicts between nations. ” I think he means that we are at times very narrow minded as a nation.
We would rather listen to what our preferred news source tells us and make our judgments from there. Traveling helps people see an entirely different perspective. Steves tends to see the humanism and similarities that cross cultural barriers. 45. Steves compares us by saying, “Iran has one dominant ethnic group and religion that’s struggling with issues of diversity and change, -liberal versus conservative, modern versus traditional, and secular versus religious. ” Yes, we are sometime intolerant like the Iranians. People are imperfect and growing. We all have different opinions and some times allow our strong opinions turn into intolerance. 6. Steves is passionate about his personal experiences and how he has seen them affect others. He believes that the American Flag doesn’t belong in his church and the Ten Commandments do not belong in City Hall. I have traveled all over the United States and have seen an American Flag in many of the churches I’ve visited. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having the American flag in church. As far as the Ten Commandments, we are a nation that believes in the separation of church and state. I am personally not opposed to it but understand the necessity to not impose this on others.