Recently, I had the good fortune of living beachside in Costa Rica for five months. This meant five months without watching a single political ad or hate-fueled speech. Simply put, it was five glorious months of peace and serenity.
Maybe I should have stayed.
I've been back home for just over a month and I feel not just overwhelmed, but angry. I can't watch a TV show, open the mailbox or drive down the interstate without being bombarded by some political statement -- or rather attack. Being back, I've realized that while the United States may be the "land of opportunity," it's also the land of bickering politicians, ignorant voters and unworldly citizens.
As the political climate turns increasingly bitter, I question the direction this country is headed. Fortunately, the opportunity to change course still exists.
That is why I encourage -- no, I vehemently beg -- every single U.S. citizen who is eligible to vote in the next election to leave. Book a flight, whether to a small Caribbean island or a mountainous village in Laos, it doesn't matter. There has never been a better time than now for you to get out of the United States.
Why? You might ask.
Because if you act on this advice, it just might be the best decision you ever make for yourself and for the country.
The United States of America is in trouble. In reality, it has very little to do with the two main Presidential contenders: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Instead, one needs to look no further than a mirror to see the source of our problems. Yes, that's right, you are part of the problem.
You, me and all those who call the United States home are to blame. We have created this mess. We have created a greedy, hate-based culture. We have stooped to name-calling and finger pointing as a way to avoid taking personal responsibility. The truth is that no single person is to blame for the demise of the economy or its slow recovery.
We all must be held accountable for our actions. Banks lent too much, corporations became too greedy and citizens -- yes, you and me -- spent beyond our means.
No one put it quite so well as Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people."
So, what happened? When did we as a nation, we as a people stop taking responsibility for our actions? When did we decide to accept so much hatred not only in politics, but also in our everyday lives?
Today, we gladly pass along blame to others when things go awry.
News flash: no one is right 100 percent of the time. People make mistakes. We're human, after all. And merely voicing disagreement and contempt about proposed solutions brings us no closer to actually fixing the wrong that has been made.
So, no longer am I going to disagree without offering an alternative solution.
That is precisely why I encourage all eligible voters to take their passports and hightail it out of the country, not as a vacation but as an educational investment. Take your family or go solo; it doesn't matter. But leave. Go south or fly across the Atlantic.
Speak with the locals, learn about their government and see the ways in which they live. To understand the future of the world and the future of the United States, you must understand the present conditions of other nations.
Everyone must recognize the implications of a global economy. The "every country for itself" philosophy is no longer applicable. Countries must work together.
But before that can happen, people must start to work together. U.S. citizens need to be willing to compromise and to look beyond a red or blue party identification.
In the upcoming months, YOU will be faced with a decision. On November 6, you will be given the task of voting for the next President of the United States.
You know the United States is in recovery mode. But it's not the job of one man to fix it. No. It is all of our jobs to fix it.
The key to restoring the United States is for each of us to take responsibility and look beyond our own borders. If you want to make a difference, then stop putting your money toward one political candidate or party. Don't waste your hard-earned cash on a tasteless, politically skewed 30-second television ads.
Instead, put your money toward traveling outside of the United States.
Spending a few days, a few weeks in another country will open your eyes. Turn off the TV, peel yourself away from your computer and experience how other cultures are living. Jobs are scare around the world; for some countries they always have been.
Your vote matters, but your determination to change the course of this nation matters more. If you let this election become about one man, then you've lost touch with reality. I have faith that the economy will recover; my biggest concern is whether U.S. citizens will move forward and once again start to work with one another rather than against one another.
Take a stand not through online discussion boards, Facebook messages or lawn signs but through travel-inspired actions.
We all just might be a little happier, a little more educated and a little more generous if we opened ourselves up to the world in which in we live. Stop politicking and start seeing the world as it really is.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
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