That’s the number of times people, somewhere in the world, were terrified, confused, and angry at an enemy they couldn’t always see.
380. That’s the number of terror attacks which took place in 2015 alone.
Paris, London, Beirut, Syria, Tunisia. Those were the tragedies we all heard of.
Nigeria, Philippines, Mali, Somalia, Cameron, Bangladesh. And there were countess others. Most didn’t feature on the evening news headlines. Some didn’t even make it onto the pages of any papers. But still, we all felt 2015 was a violent year. There is no denying that.
380 times, some of us heard of a new tsunami of blood and horror engulfing another corner of the planet and many of us, lets be brutally honest, passed a split-second judgement on a certain people, a country or even an entire area of the world, letting an entire race or religion become the culprit.
As a travel agent, I deal with people planning to travel to many places. Many a time, people would bring up the latest tragedy in our conversations, and openly or discreetly, asked for my opinion on whether it was a wise decision to travel to where ever they had planned to go. Of course, I never saw it fit to give them a simple yes or no response. It was their decision to make and so I left it to them. Still, I wished them to go. Some decided to go and see The City of Lights in the darkness, some decided to remain at home in the darkness.
‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.’ Mark Twain wrote, in his book of travels through the American West, Middle east and Europe The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It. What was the world like when he wrote these eternal words? Whatever world he deemed it necessary to write those words for, I suppose our world could be on the verge of that. A world of short-sightedness, fear of the people and the lands beyond our safe horizons. A world where bombs explode, lives are taken in an instant, people speak a harsh, vicious language; threatening, baffling and explicable. Should I just stay at home? yes, I think I may just go to the Gold Coast instead.
Of course, 2015 wasn’t all bleakness.
Hope, as it usually does, fought its way back; hand-in-hand with bravery; we all became Charlies, Paris and Beirut. We all stood in place of those who had fallen.
And now in 2016, as the world shows no signs of finding peace, I hope that we do not let go of that hope and the bravery.
Travel is enemy to bigotry. And so now, more than ever, we need to travel. To trespass the boundaries of places we have been led to believe are off limits. To see the world some wish to hide from us in a cloud of xenophobia and judgement.
So, ask yourself again, where did you go last year?
And how will you answer that same question, come 31st of December, 2016?