THE BLOG
07/18/2014 10:14 am ET Updated Sep 17, 2014

Why the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Tragedy Will Not Keep Me From Traveling

When I heard about the Malaysia Airlines flight that was tragically shot down over the Ukraine, my immediate thought was, "Oh my god. I am never flying again."

But I know that's not only a silly thought, it's also an impractical one. The statistics prove how safe air travel is. Plus, as a travel writer, I can't refuse to fly on the basis that tragedy might strike again. I have to take that chance. Whatever happens, happens.

Of course, that's not an excuse for what happened to the people on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Those passengers weren't actively taking a risk - they were taking a trip. They might have been flying home to their families, or on their way to explore somewhere new. They likely weren't at all caught up within the conflict that Russia, and the eastern areas of the Ukraine, have involved themselves in.

Accusations and theories are fast flying, and spreading rapidly now that the internet has become the world's ultimate gossip machine. Assumptions are going to be made. Judgments are going to be broadcast across your Facebook feed. Whether or not you agree with Russian or Ukrainian politics and strategy, or whether you have any knowledge on the subject at all, chances are, you'll be roped into a discussion about the event this weekend.

And it's easy to be angry about the facts at hand. Innocent people died. Powerful nations, acting recklessly, are the probable cause. As an avid traveler, I know I'm going to hear a lot on how other people feel about the situation. I know I'm going to get a lot of unwarranted advice, and worried asides, and many people telling me to "be careful" or, "be safe" on my next trip.

Luckily while traveling, I have never been met with anything less than kindness, compassion, and above all, love. Every city I have ever visited, every culture I have ever come across, is capable of expressing that feeling. I have felt it many times, and believe that, even during times of misfortune and pain, it still exists.

Times like these only fuel my ambition to travel. I will still see places within Russia, and within the Ukraine. I want to prove that the world is not a scary place. Donetsk Oblast, Grabovo, and the nearby regions, are only a few parts of this world. They do not set the precedent for how people act elsewhere, and how they choose to live. They do not project the type of cultures that exist, and that I might see.

I cannot hold an entire country, city, or culture, responsible for the actions of a few.

What happened to the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and those lost on flight MH370, and countless other flight-related tragedies, is unfortunate, to say the least. It's never easy to cope with the death of 295 innocents, let alone the thousands upon millions that have already been lost to politically-charged conflict.

What we can do as travelers, is what we do best -- travel. Explore. Engage. Invite others to learn more about who we are as people, and respect the same curiosities others experience when they meet us on the road. Avoid discrimination. Stand up to stereotypes. Comfort those who are hurt, or grieving in this tragedy.

Anger begets anger, but love is the one thing that can create the global community we deserve.