the world is bigger than just me

sharing this post is uncomfortable. but there are things in this world more important than my comfort. lately it feels like all other things are getting stuck in my throat, because this needs to be said. every day it seems, things are happening in my home country which threaten the very ideas it supposedly was built upon - liberty, justice, and equality for all. I can't stand to be silent when so many others have been brave enough to speak up for what they believe is right in the face of recent [and likely ongoing] events.

I'll be the first to admit my particular life experience is dripping in privilege. I am a white American, raised in middle class suburbia, who attended university and walked away without loans. I immediately found employment, and after five years I left of my own free will. and now my husband and I live on a single income which is enough to cover our expenses and allow for things like retirement savings and travel. the only strike against me is that I'm a woman - and for as much as the rights of my gender are important, the privileges of a white middle class American woman are far above what most in this world receive.

I do care about my rights, my freedoms, my future. but I care about more than just what affects me.

I believe that all humans are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of where they were born or the color of their skin, who they love or who they pray to. I believe that the government should provide adequate education for children, support for those who have served their country, and affordable and accessible healthcare regardless of gender or economic status. I believe that those of us who by birth or luck are privileged, have a social responsibility to assist and defend those who are not. and I believe that we are all entitled to express our opinions freely, and act according to our own beliefs so long as we do not impinge upon or deny the rights of others.

it is because of those beliefs that I am who I am. and while they began with my upbringing, they have been greatly shaped by my experiences as an expat [or, to call a spade a spade, an immigrant.] the opportunity to leave my home country and see the world, interact with other cultures, meet people from wildly different backgrounds and understand how they view America has made me a better person - wiser, more compassionate, more humble.

I understand now, that the world is bigger than just me.

the world is also bigger than America, but the decisions being made there now are impacting us all. I may not be there on the soil in the heart of it, but I can see the ripples and feel the tremors of the consequences from here on the other side of the earth. this isn't the first time our country has stumbled on its journey to fulfilling those ideals of liberty and equality - we, as with all mankind, have some truly horrific behavior in our history. but we also have this: the masses of people standing up and fighting for rights that are intersectional and more inclusive. I can see and feel that from here, too.

this is not to claim my understanding of the world is perfect or my education complete. there's still so much to learn, and there are still things that will always be beyond my comprehension. I can sympathize and support, but I'll never know anything other than my own experience. the importance is in trying. you won't learn much about the world if you surround yourself only with the people and things that agree with you. so I go places that are foreign, meet people that are different, try things that seem strange. it's a privilege to be able to do that. but anyone, no matter where they are, can do their best to keep open eyes, ears, and hearts. anyone can resolve to treat others with kindness and respect.

what I do here on this blog, is try to share what small bit I've learned of the world. my travels and my experiences abroad have changed me, shown me so many good and beautiful things I never knew existed, and I try to convey that with my stories and photographs. my hope is that this blog can give you a bit of perspective that you didn't have before, broaden your understanding of the world, and show you that curiosity and wonder will teach us more than fear.

and now, because the world is bigger than just me, I'll climb down off my soapbox.

[like-minded Americans: if you are looking for more tangible ways to help, please check out this spreadsheet or Amanda's post, consider choosing people over brand like Nicole, take action to support education, go out and march for a cause you believe in, call or email your elected representatives, and be sure to VOTE.]

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