A terrible thing happened in Oklahoma last week with the apparently random shooting of an Australian college student by three teenagers with nothing better to do. In the aftermath, an Australian politician has made comments that Australians should avoid travelling to the US due to our gun laws and crime rates. But would an Australian travel ban on the US really do anything?
I'm not here to argue about gun laws, although I figure I should put it out there that after living in the UK for a few years, I much prefer their way of going about things than ours. I'm also not here to argue about the mental health issues plaguing our country that must be somewhat at play in this event. I will leave those discussions to more knowledgeable, skilled, and I guess brave writers out here in the internet.
Besides the tragic loss of life that happened last Friday (and every day), what saddens me is that in response to such an event, so many choose to shut down instead of trying to open up. I firmly believe that travel impacts our understanding of the world and can help create compassion and understanding where there was once ignorance. It helps us understand different cultures, traditions, and perspectives; often only to realize the many similarities people have no matter where they live.
What would discouraging people from travelling accomplish? Creating a culture of fear by generalizing one incident? Discouraging an honest and open dialogue between two societies that have a lot in common, but also a lot to learn from each other? Reinforcing stereotypes that perpetuate ignorance and hate?
It just doesn't make sense to me. But then again, after watching Argo one of my first thoughts was (besides, Ben Affleck's 70s hair was incredible!), "Tehran looks like an amazing place- I hope I can get there someday." Maybe I'm being naive, but I hope in the wake of this awful incident people, Australian or otherwise, aren't scared to visit the US and are instead welcomed with a big American high-five.
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