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Claire Alkouatli

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Traveling Through A World Of Ideas

Posted: 05/08/2012 7:00 am

The most exciting and challenging travel of all is holistic travel, exploring the world of ideas in theory and in context. The new website that just launched, MISSION.tv, encourages us to do both and gain exposure to new ideas on the site.

Ideas have long been the most valuable merchandise of travelers. All the way back to the days of the Silk Road, travelers would cluster in caravanserais to share news, stories and insights. Travelers, by the very nature of their movement across the earth, leave ideas in far-flung places and bring others home. We will never know what idea we shared somewhere along the way took root in someone's heart and blossomed. And some of the ideas that we encounter in our travels are so good they are worth bringing home.

On the road, it's easy to get caught up in the superficial differences in culture that can be so visually arresting -- seeing scorpions served on sticks at a food market in Beijing or the facial tattoos of the Mentawi. And sometimes we stop there. Other times, we take functional ideas home: the idea of carrying babies in slings or combining fruit, nuts and spices in a Moroccan tangine.

But sometimes we are compelled to go even deeper, into the spiritual realm, immersing ourselves in the intoxicating ritual of Krishna devotees deep in the heart of a Karnataka jungle. Or into the social realm, examining how love-relationships work in other cultures. I never understood why Saudi women wore lovely outfits underneath black abayas until one remarked to me, "In the West, women get all dressed up to go out, but when you get home, to your husbands, you take off your nice clothes, put on an old tracksuit and tie your hair back. In Saudi Arabia, we do the opposite."

It is exciting to stumble across prejudices you never knew you had until the moment you meet someone who thinks the opposite. The goal, then, is to be open to what emerges in the intersection. To allow yourself to be educated. As people the world over come into increasingly close contact with each other, we are bound to bump into people who think the opposite--and sometimes the process is painful. As writer Irshad Manji says, "Offence is the price you pay for diversity." The interesting part is where we go from there.

The sharing of ideas and ways of doing things is not only inevitable it is necessary. Humanity has reached a point where it's time for each of us, individually and collectively, to cherry-pick the best of what all cultures have to offer, and leave alone the bad to whither and disappear. And what is best? Best, of course, is deeply personal. For me, best is what works--body, mind, spirit, society. The more of us who roam the world with minds wide open, and implement the good of what we find into our daily lives, the better our global society will be.

In founding BLUE magazine in the late 1990s, Amy Schrier created a place to explore ideas about the world through adventure travel and action sports. Now she's created MISSION.tv that aims to take global knowledge further, deeper, and turn it into action. MISSION.tv is a powerful digital platform for swapping ideas on how we, as a human community, can live better -- all of us.

 
 
 

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