“Have you noticed how riddled with fear our country is lately? We’ve never been more afraid. I’m concerned about that. Because when a society is afraid, people with a wrong motive can take advantage of that society and make them become something that they’re not. There’s a lot of fear right now in the United States of America and the most fearful Americans are the Americans that are buried deep in the middle of this country with no passports. This is a concern. Fear is for people who don’t get out much. The flipside of fear is understanding, and we gain understanding when we travel. I think it’s important for our very democracy… that we get out there, we travel, and we gain an empathy for the other 96% of humanity.”
I caught this talk last night on PBS, and it was so well done that I felt compelled to keep watching past my bedtime. (He’s been giving some version of the talk since 9/11.) It’s pretty brilliant in that it’s both a genuine plea for a saner, more thoughtful politics in this country, but also basically an infomercial for his travel services, his book of the same name, and his classics, Europe 101 and Europe Through The Back Door. (It feels very American to me in that way — both heartfelt and capitalist.) Worth a watch.