I have been really surprised at the flack I’ve been getting for one of my recent blogposts citing the embassy closing as just another reason to travel in the USA. Seth Kugel aka “The Frugal Traveler” of The NY Times in an email accused me of “fear mongering verging on xenophobia” (I am a pretty smart cookie but even I had to look that one up-an irrational fear of something foreign or strange). Another journalist named Adam Rodriguez who emailed me without divulging his professional affiliation said my post “sounded racist and hurtful”. Really people? We do not have to apologize for reading the newspapers and being aware of what’s happening in the world and making the choice to spend our hard earned dollars right here in the good old USA.
Anyone with that viewpoint probably takes our hard earned freedoms and rights for granted. I am well aware that there are plenty of awful things that happen right here in the USA. Nowhere in the world are we completely safe. But I’d prefer to be right here under the protection of our laws and rights if God forbid something does happen. If you find yourself in a sticky situation in a foreign country do you trust their police or justice system? Just read the headlines about how Mexico is struggling keep order and control against the powerful drug cartels or the corruption rife in that country. I love Mexico, I've been to Mexico tons of times, my dad is Latino and I speak Spanish. I have friends who live in Mexico City who hire armed guards to drive them around the city. Saying that right now I’d rather travel in the US because traveling to Mexico with my kids makes me nervous, does not make me a racist, or mean I am fear mongering. It just means that in weighing my travel options, I feel safer here at home. I feel the same for Asia, and Europe as well. Call me an equal opportunity offender if you like, but at the end of the day I am just a mom who cares about her kids.
The same individual who said I sounded “hateful and racist” also worried about what I was teaching my kids…here's what I am teaching my kids:
- Sensitivity to the plight of the Native Americans
- Understanding the hardships of new immigrants, homesteaders, and pioneers
- Economic hardships faced today by communities across the country
- For the hard fought battle for Civil Rights
- For our often times bloody history-that didn’t happen in a textbook but was real!
- For food and other items we use everyday-understanding that it does not come from a package, but is grown in someone’s field or is made in a factory by hardworking folks who take pride in what they do and put time an effort in to produce something of quality for us to enjoy.
- For diversity and culture-through foods, architecture, accents from a wonderful mix of religions, race, creed, and color. And most importantly for those who have served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice.
- America is a rich patchwork quilt that draws our influences from all over the globe.
As travelers we have choices about where to go. Thankfully I am blessed to be able to be able take my children anywhere in the world, but I choose to travel here. Because the rewards far outweigh the risks, that does not make me a nationalistic xenophobic and racist nut job-on the contrary, it makes me a good mom, who cares deeply about the type of people my kids grow up to be. Quite Frankly, we'd be a lot further as a country if more parents exposed their kids to everything I have.