On a recent Buzzfeed list of wisest things said by children, one woman shares the golden wisdom of her young niece; upon being asked whether she considered herself Indian or American, the girl had responded “Earthling” and returned to playing.
This conversation is one of many on the list that adults are finding startling and heartwarming; the list went viral within hours. The little girl’s statement illustrates a fairly simple concept, and yet this one sentence manages to put an entire history of human prejudices and disunity into perspective.
At what age do children– largely in result of adult influence– lose the ability to understand the world with such clarity? At what age do many of us begin to forget that our similarities are much more substantial than our differences?
Fortunately for Freedom Travellers everywhere, soaking up the diversity and beauty of cultures other than our own is the quickest way to readjust our perspective, and realign it with the truth we all grasped at a very young age: regardless of skin color, nationality, religion, economical status or political party, we are all Earthlings. Our humanness, our compassion and suffering, our grief, our urgency, the love that aches like a knot in the back of our throats– these are felt by every single one of us, across the entire planet.
Although it seems obvious, one of the main roots of prejudice is our inability to understand cuisine, habits, social etiquette, intrapersonal relationships or fashion that differs from our own– the disbelief that any correct method or reality exists outside of the one we have been raised to accept. Once you have been thrown into another culture, and have become intimate with the people of this culture, you come to realize that their reality is as substantial as your own, and that you have become the unusual minority. It is a shocking and somewhat delightful realization that I hope everyone has the privilege of experiencing in their lifetimes.
After traveling to Spetses, Greece at the early age of eight, I recognized in myself a hunger to travel in as many different countries and cultures as possible. I fell in love with the savory lamb gyros and buttery baklava, with the courtyard soccer games, and breezy linen clothing the women wore. The white washed bakeries and flat stone roofs where my sister and I lay giggling and drinking peach nectar, the pebbled beaches and loud streets of the market place, the dark eyed family that let us share their supper and live in their guest house– these things marked for me the first page of many in my memory book as an Earthling and a Freedom Traveller.