Despite the title, this is not a blog about moving to Canada should Donald Trump, Xenophobic Racist Sexist Asshole become Donald Trump, POTUS. That’s a blog for another, seemingly inevitable day.
This is a blog about how Canada is always right about everything: Jim Carrey, Arcade Fire, peanut butter…the list goes on and on. The latest example comes from the country’s new, hip, handsome, liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
As laid out in this Washington Post story, Trudeau says he thinks Canadians wish Americans would “pay a little more attention to the world.” And in a current election cycle (there I go with the political angle again) dominated by a laughable amount of yelling, finger-pointing and running in place, I couldn’t agree more.
According to the Washington Post story, Americans are often found to be among the most generally ignorant populations in the developed world and studying foreign languages in college at a rapidly decreasing rate. Most shockingly, only about one-third of Americans hold passports, as compared to about half of Australians, more than 60 percent of Canadians and approximately 80 percent of Brits.
Frankly, I find that upsetting. I’ve touched on how much good I took out of my trip last year in terms of expanding my world view and bursting the bubble I lived in at home. I’ve mentioned my wish for study abroad to be a requirement of American college students. I think emphasizing foreign language study in schools is a no-brainer.
And these beliefs are only strengthened when I witness ignorance at the highest levels on a daily basis in our country. For example, two-thirds of Trump supporters currently “dislike American Muslims,” which doesn’t even delve into those who aren’t citizens.
How many of those people have spent a few days in Morocco, interacting with some of the friendliest folks in the entire world (despite my being clearly American) who bent over backward in the heat of a Ramadan fast to host, serve or barter with a smile on their faces?
Can any of them say they’ve pursued open friendship and conversation with people from other countries (let alone Americans of other nationalities) about politics, religion, education or cultural norms?
And how many people in America who perceive to hate other people, countries or religions have thought of actually traveling to experience those things for themselves before making a judgment?
This is exactly why I think traveling abroad is so incredibly important. I was a fairly open-minded, liberal person to begin with, but I can’t even put into words how exploring other countries half a world away have changed me for the better. Traveling didn’t just make me more aware of other cultures and countries; it’s helped me here at home, too.
I think Canada, like usual, is spot on. We do need to pay more attention to the world. Remember, we may be powerful and important but we are not the only country that matters. We are not special! Citizens of the United States are not above Muslim shopkeepers in Morocco or Mexican schoolteachers or Malaysian cab drivers.
It’s about time we all stopped looking so inward and focused on how we can make an impact for the good of the country and the good of the world as a whole. Educate yourself by stepping out of the bubble and spending time in another country.
There is no doubt in my mind that you’ll start paying more attention, as Trudeau begs, and be better off for it.