This is what I’ve concluded in London. I’ve spent so much of my life harboring deep pride about the cities I’ve seen, the airlines I’ve used, and the times I’ve moved, and finally I’ve decided that traveling is one of the most loaded status symbols I’ve ever abused. Very early on, people learn that the places we’ve been to are tremendous social currency for either bragging to friends or applying to college or jobs. In both cases, the assumption is that travel has made us into more tolerant, independent, and culturally aware people.
I think this is incorrect. I think that just as travel can genuinely break preexisting assumptions we have about the world and other people, it can lock worldviews into place or the kinds of people we surround ourselves with. Geographical location is only one way among many that people are different, and I think it’s very dangerous to assume that the plane tickets we buy come packaged with a new, “open mind.”
“But how could the United States reduce its commitments in the world without at the same time conveying the appearance of weakness, and thus risking humiliation…?”
When was this written? Continue reading
I’ve been trying to understand how the general American public can equate wealth with success, and simultaneously denigrate society’s wealthiest people. I find this combination very odd sometimes. A couple of friends have pointed me to that study suggesting a “perfect salary” beyond which happiness levels off, so perhaps our acceptance of others’ wealth lies similarly on a cliff? But I’m starting to think that what society really attacks is the publicity of wealth, and specifically the flaunting of it. I think this is how society reveals a buried, but core and widespread belief that too much accumulated wealth, in reality, is irresponsible. Continue reading
I’ve just finished NYT reporter David E. Sanger‘s book Confront and Conceal and was interested by his mention of how differently students in different places learn the story of international relations. Everyone, whether we majored in it in college or abandoned it in grade school, is influenced by the specific strand of history we were taught. It just comes out enmeshed and entangled in other parts of our lives, even if rarely given the credit for such influence. Continue reading
I won’t be working in Hollywood anytime soon, but I sure am interested in how it works… and how it doesn’t.
I normally keep a distance from anything involving the words “culture” AND “tour.” I think the real life of a city is experienced in daily errands and run-ins with strangers – not tour guides and checklists. Continue reading
It’s a theory I studied in my very first international relations class, but seeing it lived out by peers is entirely different.