I like safe, but you go to many dangerous countries. Do you like danger? When she asked me this, I joked with her that maybe I did. But I wondered about what she actually knew, what could anyone really know about a place without physically going there. Why did it seem like the rest of the world so easily labeled many of the countries I had been to as dangerous?
They day passed and as I cooked dinner, her words mixed with the oil in my pan. I too like feeling safe. Doesn’t everyone?! I thought of my latest trip to Bangladesh and Myanmar. As if the majority of people there chose to live there. People in dangerous countries have as much choice in the matter as my coworker did in being born in Japan.
I was angry. Angry at her, angry at the vegetables in my pan, and angry at my own privilege. It’s so easy for people to judge others in less fortunate situations as if it was anything more than luck that got us into the race, sex, socio-economic, geographic, or home situation we were born into. And it’s even easier for us in these comfortable lives to stay put in our air-conditioned homes, turn on the TV, and consume.
I wasn’t surprised by her comment. Why would she leave Japan? The safest country in the world. The most monotonous, homogenous, wealthy island in the developed world. But I wish she would think about it.
There are many difficult and dangerous occurrences all around the world. Did I like waiting at a creepy bus station at 1 am in Malaysia? There was definitely an adrenaline surged novelty to it, which speaks of my own privilege, but I can tell you that I liked it as much as I liked walking home at night in Baltimore during my college years. This brave girl likes comfort as much as the next person, but my privilege doesn’t give me the right to ignore the rest of the world.
That’s why I think traveling is so important. It forces you to confront your own privilege and shallowness. I guess I’m not surprised that the majority of people are scared or nervous to travel to places [they have] never been before, but if you ask me, the thing to be scared of is not the kind of people you’ll meet, language barriers, etc. when you get there, but what you’ll find out about yourself.