Having just gotten back from the States a few weeks ago and with all the chaos swirling around Trump and all that he’s managed to tear apart in the few weeks of his Presidency, I’ve been feeling all the feelings.
And you know when I’m feeling the feelings, I’ve got to write it out – so be warned: this is a bit of a long one 🙂
I’ve said it a million times over, but it’s because I believe it bears meaning to say over and over – I am incredibly grateful for our opportunity to be abroad – especially during this reign of Trump.
But mostly because in the short time we’ve been over here I’ve come to see how much of a bubble most Americans actually live in, and how with Trump in power the determination to stay within the bubble has grown.
Let me preface what I’m about to say with a confession: I didn’t grow up as a typical American (and you could argue what a “typical” American is, but that’s a whole other post!).
I’m a military brat who comes from a long line of military brats, so my family got around – a lot.
I don’t have a hometown or even a home state where generations of my family have been born and raised.
While I was born in Louisiana, I’ve lived in Arizona, Alaska, D.C., and South Carolina all before I was of age.
And that was just me, my parents and their parents have made their way back and forth across the States as well.
Having moved so much, I was forced to learn how to adapt to new places, new people, and new ways of life. It also helped that I had parents who (thankfully) made me get out and experience the world around me – no matter where we were.
Whether it was museum hopping in our nation’s capital, camping in the Alaskan frontier, or riding donkeys in the Grand Canyon. When I look back on my childhood it is filled with experiences some people wouldn’t even think about taking in their entire lifetime.
And it’s not like we were rolling in the dough, we were your average middle class and all the things I mentioned above were always things right in our area – we never even traveled out the country until I was well into my second year of college (and that was on military orders, not just for funsies).
And I know – you’re thinking, that’s all well and good Ashlei, but why should I care?
And to that I say – because the current direction of America worries me. The ever expanding Trump bubble worries me.
I like to think of myself as a pretty rational person, I believe there are two sides to every story, that people are generally well-intentioned (even when you don’t see eye to eye), and that everyone should be given at least one chance.
And usually I would hesitate bringing up anything to do with Trump because I know he’s a very divisive and emotionally charging subject. And I hate that I’m giving him more bloody attention, but things are happening that I simply can’t ignore.
Throughout the lead up to his inauguration, I was okay – the rational side of me kept rationalizing (it’s what she does best after all). Give him a chance, I would say – he can’t ruin everything, there’ll just be a few changes here and there but overall it’ll be fine, people are just being a bit dramatic.
Then he officially took office and by Tuesday Rational Ashlei was questioning her rationalizations and all I could think was what the fuuuuuuuuuck is happening?
Conversations in my head went something like this:
Ashlei: Did he just?
Rational Ashlei: He did, but we can overcome that.
Ashlei: And that?
Rational Ashlei: Yup that too, but no need to panic.
Ashlei: What the….
Rational Ashlei: I know, I know….
Ashlei: Mother f–
Rational Ashlei: Yeah not gonna lie, this is a total shit storm.
I had this feeling during his campaign and after a week in office it only grew stronger and stronger – Trump seems determined to shut the world out and keep America in an isolated little bubble.
But here’s the thing – America was built on the idea that the world was meant for exploration.
It became the powerful country and beacon of hope because of its willingness to expand horizons, be bold in action, take risks, and embrace change.
Heck America came into existence simply because people were looking for a change.
And you could say Trump is bringing change, which I would totally agree with.
But I don’t see it was forward moving change.
If anything I see it as change away from the forward momentum we had with the Obama administration – a retreat to “better days”, whatever those “better days” are.
While America was built on the desire for change, I believe we’ve grown to fear it.
Change happens really fast nowadays, and it’s hard for many people to keep up. So I understand the desire for the “good ‘ol days”. Which is the very wave Trump rode into the White House.
But you know what’s a great cure to the fear of change and dealing with things that are different from what you’re used to?
Want to get out of the bubble? Find inspiration? Experience what the world really has to offer?
Want to stop fearing the idea of this or that culture?
You’ll come to find that the majority of people aren’t at all what they’re portrayed as in the media, movies, or fear-mongering politics.
That is the one blessing (one of many) I will take away from this experience.
Now I realize traveling isn’t always the easiest thing to do, it can be pricey and it’s something you’d have to prioritize over other things.
But I truly believe it’s something you should prioritize.
And you don’t have to go to the other side of the world to experience things outside your bubble.
Go to the next town, next city – if you’re in the South, go up North and vice versa; East Coast meet the West Coast and swing by the Midwest while you’re at it.
You can make traveling work for you – like I said in the beginning, my early days of travel consisted of visiting places that were right in our area.
I feel too many people confine themselves to what they know and that creates a feeding ground for the anti, fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric that surrounds blacks, gays, trans, Muslims, Mexicans, etc. etc.
So consider this post your permission slip to get out and see the world.
To go talk to people outside your circle and to encourage others within your circle to do the same.
I’m not saying you have to become best friends, you don’t have to agree with their way of life. But with the way the world seems to be headed, I think it’s important to learn to respect those who are different from you and what you know.
Because at the end of the day – we all want the same things – love, security, and to provide for our families.
So to close, I’ll leave you with a quote, that sums up my rambling above:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Thanks for reading.