Should You Just Stay Home?

What to Do When Feeling Threatened by World Events

When world events seem so alarming, should you just stay home? Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

When world events seem so alarming, should you just stay home? Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

On days when the news seems to be reporting that the world is crumbling, that our own personal peacefulness could possibly be at risk, when certain acts of violence, random or planned, shock more than others, staying in  place may look more comforting. I’ll just sit this one out, it is easy to think. No need to go to Dallas or Minnesota or Britain right now.  The thoughts swirl: No need to walk past the end of my street, or even open my front door.

Think about the world when many more people stayed in place. Did peace erupt? Did nonviolent problem-solving emerge globally? Or did more and more people seem like strangers? Were people fearful when anyone new came to town to stay? Didn’t it seem like there was more stranger danger, and everyone was a stranger?

The days when the news seems to be reporting that the world is crumbling are the days to travel more. If I hadn’t moved past my own comfort zone, a waiter in a restaurant in Sicily would not have brought me to the kitchen to point to what I wanted to eat because I could not understand the menu in his language. If I hadn’t been willing to go to places once seemingly hostile, I would not have learned that the then-Soviet people used to practice nuclear bomb drills just as American kids did in their own elementary schools. I would not have discovered, as I did in Peru, that some indigenous people don’t like to speak Spanish, the language of their conquerors. Many prefer to speak English if they are going to be conversing with a foreigner. If I hadn’t been willing to go places with very dark pasts, I would not have learned about how Germans who are my age abhor the evils of their grandparents.

Stay home, it’s safe, the voices warn. It’s safe until the strangers come, and those home bodies are scared, for no reason, for a reason. They’re scared to go out, they’re scared to talk to those strangers, they’re not looking for similarities or even differences, they’re just not looking.

Staying home never spared anyone, in the end. It just limited them more. It fed the fear, of different places, of different people, of different habits, of different ways of doing things.

Go out. See what’s happening in Dallas, in Minnesota, in Britain, in Paris. Lose that fear of people who aren’t exactly like you.

—Lori Tripoli

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