"Europe will be more fun without you."
As I had hoped, Rick Steves did not disappoint. He changed his normal talk about Europe traveling tips to his own personal musings on 'Why We Travel.' Some of it was about why we do travel, but a lot of it was 'Why We Should Travel.' Especially meaningful in our protectionist, more narrowly-minded society than ever. The 21% of us in America with passports have some work to do in bringing cultural understanding to the folks for whom travel is lying on a cruise ship deck to tan.
We should travel because we will understand and be more compassionate of other cultures. We should we'll learn to appretiate why certain people around the world are incredibly passionate about cheese or cigars--or religion for that matter. We should travel becuase it will help us realize that other cultures find other truths to be self-evident. (got that one from Rick)
Much of the material was familiar since I read his blog regularly, but there were some pretty inspiring snippets. Rick's critique about legislating morality--like marijuana and prostitution--in America, that it doesn't stop people from breaking the law, just makes it more dangerous and wastes tax payer dollars on prison. His railing against the dumbing down of society by our media and politicians.
The crowd's favorite moment was when he told us about customers who would write to him that they were no longer going to go on his tours since he promoted 'trying to understand the enemy' (his visit to Iran) and legalizing drugs (decriminalizing marijauana). His comment, "Well, Europe will be more fun without you," was greeted by loud applause.
Ah, it is good to be back in a city full of progressives. For the long term I still haven't decided where I should settle down (if I should decide to do so). Do I like old friends and liberals more than sunny skies and palm trees?
I think they might be winning me over up here.