“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana famously wrote. This affects our lives everyday here in the USA. We are not likely to have another Three Mile Island or Tacoma bridge incident again, or at least any time soon. The Tacoma Bridge is worth a YouTube visit to the unfamiliar. There are also a host of other lessons we can learn from history regarding the environment, politics, crime and health. As this nation has diverse cultures and geography, our history lessons are broad and numerous. Many resulted in laws and regulations to prevent a repeat of problems. After all, isn’t it better to learn from others’ mistakes than to pay the price again yourself?
Many younger folks don’t realize how trashed our environment was at the time the EPA began in 1972; rivers so polluted they caught on fire, towns so polluted they needed to be permanently evacuated, the sight of hawks, eagles, foxes and numerous other creatures almost extinct that today are daily sights for many like myself. I’ve witnessed the dramatic change for the better over decades and shudder to think of how quickly we could lose so much without them. Lessons learned.
The return of nature is just one of the reasons I love to travel, and it’s closely related to another reason. I love learning from others, too. I’ve seen firsthand the horrors of war in developing countries, I’ve seen polluted shanty towns, I’ve seen how beautiful Notre Dame once was, I’ve seen the cultural devastation from invaded countries. Pretty dark stuff no doubt, and in contrast to the beauty I’ve seen as well from the majesty of Alaska, to the peaceful wilderness and tropics. I’ve seen countless picturesque quaint towns in more than 80 countries and 40 states. It’s enriched my life seeing these things.
Today, no different than in the past, we face our own challenges. We are less likely to repeat our mistakes. But for those who travel, we are also less likely to repeat mistakes made by others. And there are a lot more of them than you! Imagine as a nation how much better off we’d be if our collective decision making hailed from a more travelled populous? Travel not only is good for you, it’s good for all of us. It’s almost a patriotic duty. Get out there and enjoy some travel!