It seems like every other day I wake up to news stories about a new terrorist attack or some sort of moral injustice in the world. After the attacks in Berlin, Turkey, Brussels and all around the world since, my heart broke for all of the hurt and terror in the world, but it also broke because I realized that people were saying they no longer wanted to travel because of the potential threat. I understand that fear, but I can say that terrorism won’t stop me from traveling.
I studied abroad in Brussels and so it is somewhere very close to my heart. It’s where I discovered my love for travel and for other cultures and where I really began to learn things about myself I never knew before. Watching the tragedy unfold made me sick. I still have friends there who I of course was concerned about, but more to the point, I was sick to my stomach that once again there are people in this world who’s existence is to simply hurt and terrorize other innocent humans. The people who died and were injured were people just going about their daily lives. Going to work. Going on a business trip. Maybe even trying to visit loved ones. This kind of terrorism makes me furious, but it’s also not the point of this article.
Every time I travel somewhere more often than not the response I receive is to "stay safe" or 'be careful.'
As terrorism has become increasingly more common, as sickening as it is to admit, there has become a collective belief that we should try and be extra safe, be really careful and to stop traveling to unknown places. I get it. It’s a scary time and we want to protect ourselves and protect our loved ones. We’ll do anything we can to make ourselves feel safe again, even if it’s not the most logical thing to do and even if, in reality, it won’t make any difference.
Every time I travel somewhere more often than not the response I receive is to “stay safe” or “be careful.” While I understand and appreciate the sentiment, the implication is that normally I’m not safe and I don’t take the necessary precautions to protect myself in my travels. I understand sometimes it’s something that’s just said, but the harsh reality is that no one is “safe” anymore.
Paris and Brussels are viewed as first world, very successful, wealthy cities and yet both have been victims to heinous acts of terrorism which has led to the deaths of dozens and dozens of people. I’m not trying to be morbid and I don’t want to scare anyone, but the reality is if you’re going to tell me to be safe when I travel to Bangkok, New York or even London, then by extension you need to tell me to be safe when I walk across the street to get a loaf of bread, or when I get on the U-Bahn to go to work. The sad truth is that it’s about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and this is one of many reasons why terrorism won’t stop me from traveling.
[Terrorists] win by making us change our lifestyles because of what might happen. They win when we choose to forego an opportunity because of the what ifs.
Paralyzing us and fear is how terrorists win. They win by making us change our lifestyles because of what might happen. They win when we choose to forego an opportunity because of the what ifs. They win every time someone says “stay safe.” When we think about them and are afraid they’re winning. I won’t let that fear change my life. I won’t miss amazing opportunities because that is exactly what they want. And, unfortunately, I’m no safer at home than I am in Kuala Lumpur, Mexico or Bali.
People have died from terrorism in Boston, in New York, in London, in Paris, in Brussels. Living in fear won’t make you safer and traveling somewhere different doesn’t make you more susceptible to an attack. There is so much good in the world and it’s important to remember that terrorists only make up a small percentage. There are kind-hearted and wonderful people in every country and by working to build bridges with these other cultures we’re spreading positivity, understanding and love rather than hate.
That’s the best way to combat terrorists. Work to understand other cultures and get to know the locals. Share stories, bond and be positive. Nothing good will come of fear and worry and it certainly isn’t going to make you any safer.
At the end of the day, your chances of being in a terrorist attack are minuscule and you’re more likely to end up being crushed by your TV than being killed or injured by a bomb. Don’t give into the fear and hate. Don’t stop experiencing new cultures and building bridges and understanding across continents, because that’s the best way we can win.