I took a look at Google flights, a layout of our planet’s geography and Earth’s various regions, and think to myself, it is mind blowing.
It is mind blowing how close every city and country seems when laid out onto an electronic screen.
It is mind blowing that we all live in the same world.
It is mind blowing that it is actually possible to travel to other places.
Because when I think of potential travel destinations, I think of well-known countries that are flourishing with tourism.
But that is not all that Google maps shows.
There are destinations that we are familiar with in the media. Cities that are associated with terrorism. Countries that are taken with a hint of horror.
Syria. North Korea. Nigeria. Uganda. Iraq.
It is mind blowing to recognize that these places are real. These people are real. And they exist represented on our screens.
TripAdvisor includes listings for hotels, flights, restaurants. Day to day life occurs in these places. And we have the ability to travel to these places.
Furthermore, terrible things happen in these places. To good people, like you and me. But at the same time, life happens in these places. To everyday people, like you and me.
You see, it is most mind blowing because it illuminates the fact that we are all human, and we share one planet.
Just like Italy, Syria has rankings for its best tourist sites. Just like California, Syria has an educational university. People live and breathe in these places that are generalized with horror, and they live and breathe just like you and me.
It is mind blowing, because, what if I was there? What if I were to spend the next year figuring out the logistics of travelling to one of the most notoriously dangerous regions of the world?
Experiencing the terrors and horrors of these alienated places is a possibility for people like you and me. If we really wanted to, we could probably do it. Just like the photographers, documentary artists, and journalists that do so out of passion and purpose.
Not that we will or would, but the fact that it is possible for us to completely alter our lifestyles and transition into what we find most terrifying, is mind blowing.
Because if we did decide to travel to a war-stricken area, we could easily never get out. We could become full recipients of the forced lifestyles that many local individuals suffer through everyday.
What seems so far from us, could potentially become our reality.
And it blows my mind, because that means we are no different.
We are no different from those fighting in the conflicts seen in Syria, no different from those who worship their North Korean leader every waking moment, and no different from those our own country wages war against.
All we are is human. And somehow, we were born in a place that could offer us safety and privilege. No different than others who were born in places that could not.
It is mind blowing, because, humanity exists in every aspect of the world. A thread of our basic biology and random fates connects everyone and everything.
We are not separate from what we are terrified of, sorry for, or angry about. We are a part of the world, as are the refugees we read about in the news. As are the people we read about in history books.
And that is what is most mind blowing.