A confession regarding travel

I am torn about going to Ireland this year...I am always torn about international travel, since early in 2010 when I made a decision to reconsider it.*

I have a sense that international travel has become the new "doesn't count as consumerist" consumer good for Classy, Educated, otherwise non-acquisitive people.

But I don't think it is an unquestionably fine choice to make. And while I pass no judgment on you, it's really important to me to be consistent in practicing what I believe.

There the issue of environmental realism, for one. Flying from one continent to another uses up a lot of petroleum (see also: oil wars) and emits some truly nefarious gases.

There is the question of how I, a person who aspires to live simply and in a way that does not belie my support for economic redistribution, ought to earn and use money.

I want to practice contentment. I don't want to consume senselessly, even of things like travel that I really enjoy. I don't want to accept my entitlement to do things that, in an equitable world, everyone could not expect to be able to do.

Certainly what one person chooses to do has little effect on the rest of the world, but still. Impact aside, being consistent, asking the questions, makes me much happier than having everything I "want" does.

I still have not made a permanent decision about international travel, but the question and the unease will not leave me alone. (It's part of the reason why I turned down the internship in Uganda last summer.) So I take it seriously.


*I say "international" because in a USian context that's mostly synonymous with intercontinental/really long-distance. I'm not sure where I would draw the lines. 

7 comments:

Erin 5/27/2012 7:12 PM  

"I don't want to accept my entitlement to do things that, in an equitable world, everyone could not expect to be able to do."

I really like your phrasing of this.

Holly 5/27/2012 10:51 PM  

Thank you, Rin.

Stephanie 6/02/2012 2:48 PM  

"I want to practice contentment. I don't want to consume senselessly, even of things like travel that I really enjoy."

"Certainly what one person chooses to do has little effect on the rest of the world, but still. Impact aside, being consistent, asking the questions, makes me much happier than having everything I "want" does."

" it's really important to me to be consistent in practicing what I believe."

Yes, I agree that we shouldn't always just do the thing that "makes a difference" but there is value in just doing what is "right" at least according to your beliefs, if that makes any sense...

Holly 6/02/2012 9:48 PM  

Stephanie - Yes, I know you've mentioned before that the Orthodox view is oriented more towards one's character than towards material change. It's an interesting distinction to me.

Sarah Louise 6/04/2012 6:40 PM  

such a different way to look at travel. Almost all of my travel up (international) was with my family, for my dad's job, so I never really thought about it the way you are. You think deep thoughts.

xo,
SL

Nicole 6/07/2012 6:53 PM  

It can only be a good thing to be conscious of the impact of one's own choices on the state of the world. And we can't deny our interconnectedness.

But the idea of not-doing because others can't-do reminds me of the dinner-table conversations that happen when children are fussy or don't finish their food. I remember, as a child, not being able to understand how me leaving brussel sprouts on my plate had anything to do with the starving children in Africa.

It's a dilemma I have yet to resolve fully for myself.

Holly 6/07/2012 11:54 PM  

SL - Have you been overseas since your third-culturing days?

Nicole - For me I think it would not suffice as an act of not-doing -- it would be only be meaningful if I used (/part of) that money to do something equally lovely closer to home and donated the rest...or just donated the whole of it.

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