When Bonnie and I talked about taking an extended trip across America, a few people expressed concerns for our safety based on the tweets of the current President and the heated and sensational reports in the news.
Indeed, to a Canadian, it could seem like America is totally out of whack based on what is in the news.
I have traveled in the states many times, often after dramatic events such as 9/11.
My experience is that the majority of Americans live the words in the American Constitution first drafted by Thomas Jefferson:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (see history)
Almost everyone we meet is warm and friendly and eager to help us enjoy our experience.
People mostly value family and friends above all else.
Most everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, and culture are warm and welcoming.
There is very little discussion of politics on local radio.
You need to be open to seeing someone else’s perspective. A very nice gentleman in Nashville talked about the danger of violence from radical Liberals without a hint of irony.
The South is filled with historical battle sites and there are many reenactments. One of Bonnie’s cousins talked about playing a Union soldier in one of the reenactments, “one of the bad guys.”
In Canada we tend to think that the Affordable Health Care Act was a move towards a Canada-style universal health care system. It is much more complicated than that and friends in California and Texas said that it disrupted good health care plans through employment and added hundreds of dollars of expenses to each worker. In other words, it helped some and hurt others.
Yes, there are some areas people advise avoiding. A fellow we saw on the Natchez Trace had done two tours of duty in Iraq and went back to teach at a university there advised not stopping in parts of Memphis. That says something.
We found Georgia to be one of the warmest and friendliest states, though there are likely areas to avoid.
But sometimes that is mostly a perception.
I grew up in a quiet little community of North Vancouver called Lynn Valley. It had its drama too. One of my classmates was murdered after graduation, another had a family member with mental illness kill many family members. Youths in one area tended to pick fist-fights with youths from other areas. Child serial killer Clifford Olson operated in the Vancouver area. Someone was shot in a North Vancouver movie theatre.
Accidents happened. The Second Narrows Bridge collapsed during construction the year I was born killing many workers. A grain elevator blew up. A gas station blew up.
Once in a while people do crazy things and stuff happens.
As I write this, it reminds me that statistically the world is safer today than it has ever been.
The residents of Vancouver are not living in fear of visiting North Vancouver. Surrey maybe … but that is another story and mostly an ongoing local joke, like New Yorkers defining hell as a weekend in New Jersey. By the way, New Jersey is called the Garden State, is the home of Princeton University, and has many beautiful beaches and forests.
My main point here is that if you are avoiding visiting America because of what you are seeing on the news, you are missing out on some beautiful places with a rich history and welcoming and generous people.
I believe that to be true of almost everywhere in the world.
The average, ordinary person everywhere is simply pursuing Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
So ignore the sensational news. Most Americans do.
Bonnie likes to say, “wherever you go, there you are!”
Malls tend to look the same everywhere in North America. Little towns look similar. Poor areas look similar. People are people.
Go and enjoy seeing the world.