I travel to learn about other people in unfamiliar places. I go to listen to their stories and understand.
I was raised Catholic and have since left that religion. I don’t call myself a Christian but rather a Jesusist because I believe in the doctrine of inclusion and I honor all religions. I still post a picture of an angel on my Facebook page every Christmas with the words, “Be not afraid. I bring you tidings of great joy.” In this troubled world, this declaration always brings me comfort.
I also travel to learn about other religions. Through direct experience during my time in India, I got to witness the history and practices of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and Buddhism. I was really touched by many lovely philosophies. The meaning of namaste which states that “the goodness in me recognizes the goodness in you”. The belief in the interconnectedness of all people and creatures. The fact that the Sikhs feed hundreds of people each day. The call from Eastern religions for self examination and responsibility to others. And I will never forget the acceptance and kindness the Indian people showed me. I could not spend 17 days with these wonderful people and not be changed forever.
In 2018, I took a journey close to home, a tour called “The Lost Villages of Fort Drum.” I was thrilled to see our local history preserved and acknowledged by the archaeological department on the base. This prompted me to started reading about the Antebellum Era of the early 1800’s when America was new and trying to define itself. There was a shift away from Calvinism that defined a person’s fate as a good or bad person before birth. The movement called The Second Awakening put more emphasis on the importance of doing good deeds. I loved a quote from that time that stated “injustice to one is injustice to all.” This belief motivated people to work for reform, the emancipation of slaves, and the right of women to vote.
This year of travel has given me great hope. I have seen the history and geography of humanity’s heart. The spirit of the human soul wants the best for others, for all of us. There will always be people in this world who will believe in that light and will work to keep it alive.